Jie Yao Justin Zhao

World Trade Center

Easing Parents' Burden

Justin Zhao earned good grades as a student and never rebelled, even as a teenager. After starting to work for Aon as a computer technician, Mr. Zhao, 26, frequently gave his parents money and always bought them cakes and fruits.

This year was the first time that the Zhaos found their financial burden lightened since they immigrated to the United States 15 years ago from Guangzhou, China. At first, they lived in a basement apartment in Woodside, Queens. The father, Qixuan Zhao, waited on tables in Chinese restaurants, and the mother, Shuzhen Zhao, sewed clothes in Chinese garment factories.

Then earlier this year, their sons, Jimmy and Justin, both City University of New York graduates, found well-paying jobs. Suddenly, taking vacations and enjoying retirement were no longer preposterous goals.

"But who knew this would happen?" said Jimmy Zhao, Justin's older brother. "We just cannot accept the reality. We are still in denial."

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on December 17, 2001.

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