Coming to America

Airman 1st Class Yi Liu, 27th Services Squadron, returned to Cannon following a deployment to Qatar. Airman Liu came to the United States from China two years ago, became a citizen and hopes to become a Chinese linguist for the Air Force.

Mr. Greg Allen

Airman answers opportunities’ knocks offered by her new country, Air Force

When asked if the 12-hour shifts she worked while deployed to Quatar were difficult, Airman Yi Liu merely smiled.
Twelve hour work days don’t compare to the 12 years it took for her and her family to be able to come to America.
Nor do the opportunities she had in Canton, a Chinese province, compare with what is available for her in America and the Air Force.
“Two years ago I came to America with nothing but a green card in my pocket,” said the 23-year-old Airman. “Now I have my own SUV, bought my own laptop and can provide for my mother.”
Perhaps more importantly, though, her service in the Air Force helped reduce the time requirements for her to become a U. S. citizen. This is a necessary step for her to achieve her next goal — to become a Chinese linguist for the Air Force.
“My dream is to be a linguist and it’s coming true, step by step,” said Airman Liu.
She still carries a pocket translator to help her with her English. After hearing a word she is unsure of, she enters it into her translator. She looks up and says, “That’s what I thought it meant.”
She said that while she knew some English when she arrived, basic training was a challenge because her training instructors did not let her use her translator.
“Can you imagine what it’s like to be deaf and dumb?” she asked, recalling her first days in the Air Force. “That’s how it felt in basic training. Not only was I trying to adapt to the tough physical and mental requirements, I was also learning English as a new language.”
Although basic training and technical school were challenging, Airman Liu passed with flying colors, earning her an award for excellence along the way. Within a year she earned her 5-level qualification, learned how to drive and became a citizen.
Airman Liu now works the night shift at the front desk of the Caprock Inn, answering questions and resolving issues.
For Airman Liu, life in America has been one opportunity after another since her arrival. In her homeland, she said opportunities were few and costly.
“You even have to pay to use a public bathroom in China,” she said. “There is so much available in America.”
She believes that if she, as a foreigner, can hope to accomplish her dreams, others can as well.
“Don’t give up. Nothing is impossible,” she said. “It’s just a matter of how hard you try. The Air Force will take good care of you if you do something yourself.”
(Maj. Ann Knabe 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs also provided information for this article.)