Peter Wang served in a familiar role for his Florida family. His parents, who had been smuggled into the United States from Fujian, a province in southern China, in the late 1990s, arrived without knowing English. They worked in restaurant jobs, managing eventually to buy a restaurant of their own. Despite several efforts to learn English, they eventually gave up.
Their link to the larger world was their son, Peter, who translated school notes, doctor’s appointments, and all the other interactions that required a command of English. But that link was sundered when Peter was among the victims of the Stoneman Douglas high school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
For a sensitive and heart-breaking account of his family’s effort to contend with grief and reorganize the mundane details of life with little command of the language, see this New York Times piece, Lost at Parkland: ‘Peter Was Always My Translator’. It’s another, complicated look at the difficulties of contending with life in the United States with limited English ability.