Shengqiao Chen and Zehao Zhou

In 1993, a freighter called the Golden Venture ran aground just outside New York City.

Onboard were nearly 300 people who were being smuggled into the U.S. from China. Some paid upwards of $30,000 for passage on the ship, fleeing from political persecution.

After the crash, 10 people drowned trying to reach land. Many who made it were detained in U.S. prisons for years, waiting for political asylum.

Shengqiao Chen (left) was one of those survivors. He sat down for StoryCorps, with his friend Zehao Zhou (right). They met while Sheng was in prison; Zehao was his translator.

Originally aired June 7, 2013, on NPR’s Morning Edition.