Khalil Gibran memorial across Boston Public library
I met Louis Liang in October 1983 while working at Fairchild Semiconductor. He has been my friend and mentor since then and he has helped me in many ways in career and life. 34 years later, I still enjoy listening to his perspective on various issues on our Tuesday morning coffee chats. Many years ago I asked him what could I do in return for his guidance and help through the years. His reply was “Help the next generation. Pass on what you gain to them.”
Story Line: This is the story of my first 2 years in the USA (1974-1975). Most of you do not know the individuals I have mentioned but you may have similar experiences of your own with the people you have met on your journeys. Those people we cross paths with play a significant part in what we become.
My Japan Airlines flight was delayed due to mechanical troubles and arrived late in the evening at Los Angeles International Airport. The shuttle service to USC was already gone for the day. Worried and confused, I pulled out an SOS instruction sheet (given to me by my parents when I left home) and called a distant uncle; one I had only met two or three times in my life and asked for help. He stayed in Anaheim, quite a distance from LAX, but ended up coming to pick me up. For the next several days, Gautambhai gave me an orientation to America and helped me settle myself into campus life.
That semester USC EE department had launched a special program for an MS Degree with a specialization in Semiconductor Physics and Processing. There was a growing need for this rapidly emerging Industry. The prerequisites were a bachelors in Physics or EE. Even though I was admitted for the four year program for a BS in EE, I asked Professor William Steier (Head of EE department at the time) and Mr. Khetrapal (Head of the foreign student’s office) if they would let me go for an MS since I already had a BS in Physics. They gave me a chance. 18 months later I graduated with a masters degree instead of doing an additional four years to attain a bachelors degree.
A quarter before graduation, I had attended an event at UCLA with guest speakers who were executives from Silicon Valley in Northern California. I took their business cards and kept in touch by phone. After graduating I went to San Jose and contacted the two speakers I had met. Both were gracious and invited me to their offices. One, Francis Azariah went above and beyond, calling me and giving me tips on possible job opportunities. Not only did I land an interview at one of those companies, but before they could make an offer they needed local references, and he gave them a very honest review about me.
When I had moved to Silicon Valley I met a nice man at Girish’s place where I was staying. He had immigrated from England with his family and bought a motel for business. We connected and he offered me to stay with his family until I felt comfortable in my new environment. Naranbhai and Shantabhabhi treated me like their own son and provided great emotional support in settling down in the new area.
Reflection: I have been incredibly fortunate in my journey in USA and prior to have met so many kind, caring and helpful individuals; most of whom I have met through chance encounters. They have all played a significant role in the wonderful life I've led.
They have enriched me with an enormous wealth of experiences and stories that have been shared in Friday Reflections through the years and also helped in assistance and encouragement to the new comers to the country or the company, The Young and The Restless and listening to people wanting to share their experiences or ask for an opinion. The doors were always open in office and have been open at home.
For things that are given away are never lost.
*Part 2 covering other years and experiences to be published in November.