Written by Yookyung Na
My parents always told me to be an independent person. They respected my opinion since I learned how to communicate and always let me be part of making decisions with them. Even at six years old, I convinced my parents that I would benefit from having an extended 2-month vacation with my cousins who lived in the U.S. since I could learn English from native speakers. However, my experience at the school I went to during the vacation was quite different from what I had imagined. While other kids were excited about lunch and recess to play with their friends, I was afraid of lunch and recess times because I did not have any friends to hang out with. And unlike what I thought about myself, I cried every night and realized that I was still a six years old child who needed parents to depend on. After the two months of a trip, which felt like two years for me, the fact that I went there by myself without my parents became my pride even though I was not a strong, independent person when staying in America. The biggest reasons why I turned out to be a confident person, from an insecure girl who did not speak a word during recess, is compliments from people around me. My family and friends commended me about how independent and brave I was to attempt to go to the U.S. at such a young age. As there is a saying, “compliment makes even whale dance”, those words made me so flattered that I instantly forgot all the struggles that I experienced in the U.S. and remember myself as a brave and strong-opinionated person who had no fear of trying new things.
Few years passed by, then in 2019, our family immigrated to the U.S. In the early days of the immigration, my parents were very busy settling down, so I had to not only adapt in school but also take care of my brother as well. One night, my parents came into my room after work, thinking I was asleep, and my mom cried and rubbed my head and said that I am a reliable and proud daughter, and they have no clue how they will live without me.
An experience as a six years old and fifteen years old made me reflect on looking back on myself and led me to become a strong, independent person who has a strong sense of responsibility.