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Advancing a peaceful transition to democracy in China through truth, understanding, citizen power, & cooperative action

Speech of Liu Xianbin’s Daughter, Bridgette, at her High School

Bridgette Chen is the daughter of Liu Xianbin, a Chinese dissident and democracy activist since his days in the Tiananmen Democracy Movement. Liu Xianbin is a co-author of Charter 08 and one of the Charter’s 300 original signators.  He was arrested in 2010 and is currently serving a 10 year prison sentence in connection with his writings on democracy.  Bridgette was living with her family in China when her father was arrested but left the country after suffering police harassment at her home and at school.  Below please find the text of her remarks at her junior high graduation ceremony in California, U.S.

Good afternoon, everyone! I’m Bridgette,  I came to Alpha Beacon a year ago. My uncle, who is a pastor, chose this school for me because he wanted me to study in a Christian school so I could learn more about God. In Alpha Beacon, all the students and teachers are very nice to me, especially the teachers, who are extremely funny. This year I had many amusing moments and precious memories, but the best thing that happened to me in this school year would be that I became a Christian. Here I learned a lot about God’s creation, his eternal love, and about how Jesus, the son of God, was crucified on the cross for our sins so that we could be saved.
When I came to America, my English was very poor and for awhile I felt depressed that I couldn’t properly express myself using English. But fortunately, I was greeted by such wonderful teachers, who are always so kind and attentive, like Mrs.Gates and Mrs.Fobelli who are always laughing, they gave me so much help on English, whether it’s correcting my grammar, or improving my sentence structures, or even just offering a word of comfort when I felt lost. Mr.Lee brought smiles to my face day after day with his little random, funny gestures. And Mr.L, he encouraged me to improve my grade when I got my first F in science. and Mr.Tong, the most serious teacher that I had ever met, although he is serious but he is also humorous, and he had talked to me about my uniform issues many times. All the teachers helped me to adapt to learning in a new country. And after I became a Christian, I started to try harder by myself, focusing not to be dependent upon people but rather on God. I started to pray about my future life in America asking him for guidance, and I realized that when I gave myself up to God, he gave me the strength to focus and to study harder. Because of my poor English, in the first and second quarter I got really bad grades, but I didn’t give up. In the following two quarters I started to improve in all subjects, I thought that if I try my best, I’ll achieve better grade, and thankfully, God knew how to help me. Then, the first science test of the third quarter I got an A- instead of a F, and gradually, my grade on every subject started to improve. This showed to me that God was blessing me, and building me a wonderful life.
Before I came to America, I had never lived away from my family, so when I came here, I missed my family constantly. My mom, dad, my kind old grandpa, and my best friends. I always felt like no one was with me. I went to my uncle’s church every sunday. Sometimes I played my flute to praise God with my cousin. Through listening to God’s words, I finally knew God was with me, and he will never leave me alone. God chose for me to be here. I started to become stronger, and I stopped crying when I was missing my family and friends. I knew I had to enjoy the life in my new country.
The first time I felt the love at Beacon was at the last night of the retreat. The seniors were crying about their last year at Beacon and then I was moved and started to cry. Retreat was so much fun. Mrs. Fobelli taught us how to dance and I went on a giant swing in the woods and we had great worship and a nice pastor who gave us good messages.
Every day is becoming better, it’s true. I smile more in this school. Spirit Week was one of my most memorable week, especially on International Day when I wore my aunt’s Chinese coat and had so much fun with my friends Ellen, Esther and others. I experienced so many new things at Beacon. I played my first soccer, football, volleyball, and basketball games. I received two blue ribbons, one for math and one for art. I made new friends who helped me not to miss my life in China so much. And I still remember the first day I came to Beacon, I didn’t get to wash my hair or my face since I overslept. And I felt lost since everyone’s face looked the same to me. However, Megan was there to help me adjust and  remember names of everyone. And when I found out that Ally and Jemmie was also a Belieber, how excited I was. And we 8th grade had a good time at Great America.
The Bible verse that I would use to describe my life is from Psalms 16:11, it says “You make known to me the path of life;  you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Every time I read this verse, I’m reminded to put my faith in God, because I know that God already has the perfect plan for me. Since it is only through God where I can get eternal life; he was my creator, so he knows exactly what I need.
 I love Alpha Beacon and will never forget the school, where I’ve gained a great deal of knowledge and helped me to adapt to America.  I really thank you all for making me feel so welcome and helping me this year.
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