I was born into an immigrant family. Life was difficult and my family came to America with nothing. They worked so hard when they came here to make sure they can provide me with the best life possible so that I won’t have to take demanding jobs and fail in life.
It was super hard for me as well even though I wasn’t an immigrant. I was born in America, but I grew up with my culture all around me. Even if I was born here, I still had to take ESL (English secondary language) for a long time since no one in my family really spoke English. Cantonese and Toisanese, a regional Chinese dialect, were my first languages and I spoke them at home. I always wanted to belong at school and was often ashamed of being Chinese. I would often avoid using Chinese at school and would only speak in English. I wanted to look like a Barbie doll, blond hair, blue eyes. I felt like I didn’t fit in and felt ugly. Later on, I realized that I didn’t need to have Western features to be accepted by society and that I should embrace my Asianness.
Growing up, I also have experienced racism. People would say something like, “Ew, that food smells. Are you eating dogs?” “Omg, you have small eyes.” “You are a chink.” “Go back to your own country–you don’t belong here.”
I got physically assaulted as a kid when one day I was walking to the train station. All of a sudden, a group of young teens walked past my grandma and me pulling their eyes back, then threw a bottle of lotion at us and ran away like a bunch of morons. It made me realize so many things. People mocking me and telling me that I don’t belong here hurt me a lot.
Despite the racism my family experienced, we were still able to push through it. The day after my grandma and grandpa arrived in America they started to work. My grandpa worked at a Chinese restaurant and my grandma worked at an Asian supermarket. My grandma wished that she learned how to drive and speak English when she came to America early on because now she regrets not knowing how to do either of those, even if she sacrificed everything for the family. All my grandma was doing was just work work work and she barely had time to sleep as she was working really long shifts. A couple years later my mother and father came to America. My parents tried to learn English. A year later, my mom got pregnant with me yet she still continued to attend college. Both my parents sacrificed a lot for me and my siblings.
Now that I grew up, I want to thank my family so much for their support and the sacrifices they made to come to America to make sure my siblings and I have the best life and education. The message I want to share based on my life is that although moving to a new country is hard, never give up, have hope, and stick to your family.