17-Year Old High School Student, Wayland Fong, Releases FAT BOY, LITTLE MAN
Wayland Fong was born in San Francisco. He is the son of a Vietnamese refugee and Chinese immigrant. He currently attends Gunn High School in Palo Alto, California.
He has had repeated stays in the hospital (17 times) due to illness. He spent more than half a year in bed suffering from the pain.
He has moved across the state and country nine times, and has transferred schools eight times. He has experienced a different life compared with other kids the same age.
Seventeen years have flown by, and he has changed from a fat boy to a little man. From California to China, from Hawaii to Vietnam, he has lived his life on both ends of the earth.
What he has learned wasn't all from a school, but from lives on all walks of earth. For example, the countryside, the factory, and society were all big stages that he went through. He took up all his vacation time writing this book.
His family's journey to America seems as though it is straight out of a Hollywood movie:
"My father was born in a small town in Vietnam. At the age of 10, he escaped from Vietnam after the Vietnam War. His parents took him out to sea for seven days and seven nights. While at sea, he endured starvation, Thai pirates, and inhumane living conditions. Against all odds, he made it to America. For him, America was the heavenly promise land that everyone in Vietnam dreamed about.
Now, after 15 years of listening to bits and pieces of childhood memories from my dad, I went to Vietnam and stepped on the front steps of the house that my dad lived in. I saw my relatives in Vietnam and suddenly understood how miserable the living conditions had been. Inside the house, I felt an unimaginable sadness for my relatives who share the same last name as me, but have lived completely different lives. My heart pumped faster at each encounter, and all I could do each time I visited a new relative was bow in shame.
My life before had only consisted of school, video games, and family. My time in Vietnam was life changing, but I have slowly forgotten the lessons I've learned over time. I did not, however, forget this: We live in the happiest place on earth.
My eleven-year-old little cousin and my sister are the same age and they became friends in Vietnam. she worked for people on the streets that sold frogs. She helped peel off the skin of live frogs because the Vietnamese enjoyed cooking the frogs skinless and alive. In a third world country such as Vietnam, children are exposed to such animal cruelty so often that it becomes normal. In America, we grow up reading books like Frog and Toad that give us the impression that animals have humanistic emotions, but this is completely unheard of in Vietnamese culture. She earned around a dollar a day.
She said her dream was to grow up and marry an American man and take her family to America. If her dream came true, she told my sister, her mother and her whole family would be saved....
In writing this book, my goal is that the stories in my life will be able to impact yours. These stories, to me, are rooted not only in the humanity of the people within them, but also in its importance in understanding the hardships of certain parts of the world. I may be merely a teenager, but I am blessed to have been exposed to a rich family history of culture. I hope to share the stories of the people I have met in my life, people that would otherwise be just nameless faces in the crowd. Why? Simply put, I genuinely believe these stories are worth telling."