Wah Kwong

Kwong, Wah

This story originally appeared in our 2009 Senior Voices publication. It appears here as part of our ongoing 40 for 40 campaign.


Wah Kwong
Born 1929, Zhongshan, China
Arrived 1994, Seattle, Washington
SCSEP Project Assistant, NAPCA, Seattle

I was born in China and moved to Hong Kong when I was a teenager. I moved to Seattle in 1994 with my wife because my sons are in the US. It was hard to come here for my wife because she left so many friends in China.

I was doing international business in Hong Kong, import-export for a very famous company. People came from all over the world to Hong Kong for different goods. I thought when I came here, that I could join some of the importers here, but it was hard for them to accept me as an older worker.

When I came here, I was almost sixty; people always choose the younger workers. For my sons, they received work recommendations from professors at college, making it easy to find employment and get legal status. For me, I thought it might be too late, I even planned to go back to Hong Kong, but luckily they said, “you are hired.”

I started with NAPCA in 2002, helping staff with interpretation and time sheet collection, as well as spread sheet work. I enjoy helping people with interpretation. I’d like to work as long as I can. If I retire, there is nothing for me to do. Working helps you refresh your brain.

My thinking, my action, everything – I forget how old I am. I eat healthy food, take care of myself. I also regularly practice kung-fu for exercise and protection since I was ten years old. My wife always says, “Be careful, you are 80. Don’t try to be like a young man.” If you don’t practice, you forget it; even singing or computer.

Of course, everybody wants to enjoy life. If I have time, we take some time to travel. I am also waiting for my grand kids to graduate from college. If I can be so lucky, my number one grandson will start college this year.

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