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Helen Wo Interview

 

Helen Wo was born in Guangzhou, China in 1957. While growing up there, she missed a complete year of schooling during the Cultural Revolution when she was nine because her teachers were called off to work on farms. Two of her older siblings were required to leave school to go work. She grew up in the middle class, with one parent being an architect and the other an accountant. Her two brothers escaped to Hong Kong and caused her family to be put in isolation as punishment. She worked as an accountant in China after being trained by her mother. Her parents were friends with another family that had a son living in the United States. Through referrals from both their parents and after exchanging letters, Helen and her now-husband agreed to marry. He came back to China in 1982 to marry Helen. They then moved back to the United States and lived in Alief, Houston, TX. She originally worked as a waitress in a small Chinese restaurant in Old China Town in order to make a living and improve her English. She worked in a Chinese restaurant, a family fish market restaurant, a Chinese newspaper, and then the Texas Municipal Court. Her customers were primarily white Americans. Throughout different jobs she went to school to both improve her English. She just received her Associate’s Degree to be a Paralegal. Her and her husband moved to Sugar Land, TX because the schools were better there for their two children. She learned her English from ‘everybody… Everybody is my teacher.’