Personal Stories of America at Work

Monthly Archives: February 2011

How a Reluctant Chinese Engineer Designed a New Life in the US

Engineer Duo Wang builds a bright career following the darkness of China’s Cultural Revolution

Loneliness sparks creativity

I was born in Manchuria in 1957, the son of intellectual parents who were from wealthy families. Seven years before my birth, the Communists seized our property and labeled us enemies of the people. In later years, my father was jailed, tortured and exiled. Because this bad family background, I was ostracized from society at a young age.

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molly | February 22, 2011 | Education, Entrepreneurs, Government, Innovation, Job Search | 6

The War-Tuned Musician

Fusion musician Christiane Karam turned to music for survival and teaches social change through song

"Whenever I listened to or played music, I was transported to a world far away from the war-torn world I lived in."

Things were very dark

I came to the Berklee College of Music in Boston when I was twenty-six, excited but also apprehensive about starting over after years working in Beirut. Most students were younger and had lived a completely different life than mine. I had spent most of my life running from my life, and not building something. I felt like I was starting from scratch. Most musicians, by their mid-twenties, had a sound. They had figured out who they were as musicians and were on their way. I started as a freshman at Berklee, with kids who were eighteen.

I remembered back to when I was eighteen and stitching up bodies in the morgue.

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molly | February 15, 2011 | Entertainment, Musician, Women | 9

How an Unemployed Worker Built New Foundation after Lay Off

Chauffeur Tony Garcia rebuilds his life after devastation in the construction industry

"I used to see those Employee-of-the-Month photos on the wall, and thought they were silly. But now, I respect them a lot more."

Tony Garcia

Limousine Driver

Like a scene from Up in the Air

I’m a limo driver now, but I spent over two decades in the construction industry. I worked my way up from apprentice to foreman to assistant supervisor, and finally, to a desk job managing people and estimating jobs. I was paid to catch mistakes, which are very costly in construction. In one year alone, I found over half a million dollars worth of errors. The company rewarded me for my work, and I was living the high life, like taking the kids to Disneyland and staying at nice hotels. I thought I had a secure job.

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molly | February 08, 2011 | Construction, Job Search, Unemployment | 4

What It’s Like to Work on the Top of the Golden Gate Bridge

Cuban immigrant Reynaldo Charles watches all walks of life while looking after a national icon

"It had been tough growing up in Cuba--I thank my dad every day that he wanted something better for his family.”

Reynaldo Charles


Seeing the whole spectrum of life

You can’t write a story of San Francisco without saying something about the Golden Gate Bridge. I’ve been a painter on the bridge for eight to nine years. I didn’t plan it—it was luck that I ended up there. Some people say they work on the bridge, but they work in the office or something. I really work on the bridge. When people find out where I work, they say, “You work on the bridge?! You climb way up there?” You can see the excitement on their faces.

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molly | February 01, 2011 | Construction, Job Search | 4

The Working Chronicles

  • The Working Chronicles captures an intimate look at work in 21st century America through candid interviews with people from all walks of life and all corners of the country.

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  • Have a story about changing careers? We want to hear from you!
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    We'll accept an autobiographical story or interview with someone else--check out the Submission Guidelines.

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