Jessica Qian Zhang

Postcard for Jessica Zhang

I support the undocumented community.”

A thousand times searching – way back into love.

I watched Spirited Away again after 10 years. A lot of the plots were already vague, but they have more meanings for me now. This time I finally realized why I am so drawn to the Miyazaki movies. It is because the theme of courage.  Ten years ago I was in my hometown and dreaming about a journey far away; now I am in Chicago, 6606 miles away from home. One giant leap in physical distance, one small step in heart.

The name Chihiro literally means a thousand times searching. What is she searching for?

When you come to a new environment, and everything you were familiar with are gone. People you see are like the exaggerated monsters – huge and hideous. You feel suffocated and you don’t know what to do. You hold your breath and you don’t want anyone to see you, because you just do not look like any of them. It is said that the meaning of leaving home is to experience the fear like this.  In an overwhelming and strange environment, would you still remember your name “Chihiro”? Or would you rather be a new person that can fit in but has the new name “Sen”?

As you stay there longer, you start to realize that there are people like you as well. Haku, Kamajii, and Lin, they all helped you. I know that feeling. It is like when I was riding my bicycle across a very long tunnel, the moment I got out I was stopped by a lady in a car. She told me girl never ever ride a bicycle to cross the tunnel again, there was a man running after you all the way. I slowed down to ride with you so that he knew that I was with you. She said take care, and she said good luck. Help from strangers, precious and warm.

Haku told you that to survive you need to find a job. I know how fearful you are when Yubaba leaned her huge head towards you, and clinched you with her dried fingers with bloody color nail. I know it is like when you feel there were somebody behind you, you turned around and you find this dirty smile on an ugly face.

It is like walking on a dark road with a light beam. Even though you cannot see the final point, you know you need to go forward. You need to get the job. What you can do is to try your best to make your voice heard. I know how hard you have tried. When I first get here I feel like the little mermaid being depraved of voice. I remember the struggle I had the first time standing on the stadium and doing a lecture. The words were like the fish bones stuck in the throat – right there and cannot get out. So you’ve got to try, with the fullest strength. Maybe wrong words, maybe too weak, but you are trying, and that’s your own voice. You are doing much better than Ariel! My expressive desire is so strong that I used pictures to show my feelings. Images are universal. Language is not needed sometimes.

When you see Noface standing outside in the rain, you told him to come in and left the door open for him. I know why you did that, because you were once in the rain together, and you felt the irresistible compassion. The longer I stayed here, the more I see how there has been a class divide and inherent inequality. That’s why I am interested in race and gender issues; that’s why I support the undocumented students. Noface is everyone; everyone should be given equal respect.

Do you love Haku? I think you do, and the love is so strong that there is no space for doubts. You got through all the troubles because you have the courage, and the courage comes from a pure and spotless heart. I adore the pure heart so much. No pretending, no tricks, but to look at the world from the naive eyes of children. Everything is magical and happiness is easy. And the communication style restores to its original as well. I believe in whatever you say, and I don’t take more than I need.

No doubts and march forward. It doesn’t even matter which road you are taking. What matters is this full and brave heart that you are ready to get toughened. In the process you restore the heart to its pure and spotless stage, the eternal sunshine of the spotless mind. And that is what everyone is searching for, which is called, “Way back into love”.

The Butterfly postcard campaign was developed by the UIC Latino Cultural Center in collaboration with student organizations Fearless Undocumented Alliance and Heritage Garden Student Group that highlights the parallels between the migration of people and Monarch butterflies across national borders.

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You can also pick up a postcard at the UIC Latino Cultural Center and mail it to someone that can help improve the lives of immigrants.