When I first moved here in 2007, I did not expect America to be like it is today. From Korea, America is portrayed as the “beautiful country full of prosperity” and sadly, some experiences of mine have not lived up to the name. Despite the name “model minority,” many of us realize early on and forces us to grow up and mature early than most kids.
In fall of 2008, just after I moved to the States, I enrolled in a elementary school in Mckinney, Texas. It's safe to say that I had my own imaginations of what school would be like, and it was nothing close to what I experienced. I mean, what kind of an eight year old imagines that they were going to get bullied on their first day? When I went to class, everyone around me treated me as if I was a bug, a deadly disease, or worse. NO one talked to me, or even interacted with me, especially at lunch. In elementary school, lunch and recess was everything. This story is definitely not the story of how two girls became best friends when one of them decided to sit next to the other on their first day of school. In fact, it might have been the loneliest lunches I have ever had in my eighteen years of living. While immigrants in history were welcomed and greeted by the Statue of Liberty before entering Ellis Island, I did not have my own Statue of Liberty. After that horrible incident, it was not the end. The kids that were too scared to even interact with me were evolving into these monsters like Pokemon that would soon drive me away from McKinney. Not only was I surprised the hate I received, but the teachers that couldn’t do anything about it. Even Though back then I was not vocal with my feelings as I am now, But when it came to it, With my very, very, broken English, I would alert the teachers when it was needed.However, I was ignored all the time, or they would think that I was overreacting, or, they would say that the amount of television I was watching was getting to my head, when in reality, I didn’t have one at home at the time.
Of course, with my luck the hate did not change into love when I moved to Carson a few months later due to family problems. I was not severely bullied like I was at McKinney, but I was not per say, loved at Carson. Since then, up until right now at eighteen, I had trouble making friends at school or interacting with them a lot. It made me realize there are many monsters in the world, no matter how innocent one may look. Not only that, I had problems at home too. Me building up all of the stress and not telling my parents when I need to had led me to be so stressed and depressed at a young age. . Also, even though I spoke in broken English and was not as skilled like now, my parents were worse. So, I was so fortunate enough to be the one in the house to call every single customer service that was known. If there was a problem with our phones, I called them, If there was something wrong with the bank statement, I called them. That also contributed in me maturing faster than others. Like F.Scott Fitzgerald said, I think that being a “beautiful fool” could have been better than knowing all the harsh realities of life. It got worse as my family got a house and we, more like I had to call the mortgage companies using words like escrow and other terms that a normal thirteen year old wouldn’t know.In late elementary and middle school was when I began to see signs of my maturity.While many of my peers didn’t know how to write checks, but thankfully I had the practice due to always writing checks for my mom and going to the bank instead of my mom.
Also, I felt that everytime I did something really well, I was discredited due to my ethnicity. If I ever did well on a test or turned in something on time, It was because of my race or people thought that I would get in trouble at home if I didn’t, in reality to this day, my parents really don’t pay attention to my grades.It was because my race or ethnicity has a stereotype of being smart. Due to the stereotype I still get treated like that to this day at eighteen. Instead of punching the people that make fun of me like that, I study and work harder and harder than ever before to beat the crap out of them in academics. Also, growing up early and maturing made me realize that I cannot obviously go to school with a athletic scholarship or any other skill, so I turned to what I can do. Grades. While many of my peers turn to their parents to fall back on, I don’t really have that. Don’t get me wrong, I adore and love my parents. However, they both expect me to know what is going on with college and how to apply and all the small little details in getting to college. They expect me to know it all so that I can help my brother.
Noticing the realities also affected trips to the doctor. I remember how extra careful I was and still am because I was too worried about the cost of a trip to the doctors’ office. When I was around twelve, I remember passing out in front of my parents donut shop in Alvord.My mom, obviously freaked out and some other people on the street were asking if they needed to call the ambulance and I remember how even though I wasn’t awake, I could hear that and wanted to say no because the cost of just riding the ambulance plus a trip to the hospital was going to cost a lot of money that we didn’t have.
Maturing at a early age allowed me to see that dark side of our society. I learned first hand of racism, how the America that I thought I knew was not at all how it really is all the time. I saw how inconsiderate some people were with foreigners who were just trying to learn English. Kids of immigrants especially, the first generation, learns the reality of the situation and matures faster than others close in age. They will be able to agree that once they mature, they want to go back to their “beautiful fool” self. Although I think that moving to America was a great choice for my family and I, and it pushed myself to become mature at a young age, which would be great for my parents. For my parents, they did not have to deal with an immature daughter in their own times of trouble. However, I wouldn't have minded staying in the “beautiful fool” until I got to high school, or if I am fortunate enough, college. In the other hand, growing up at a younger age gave me an opportunity to appreciate my parents for raising two kids at the circumstances that we had. In the most part, I do very much regret it.
In conclusion, “model minorities” do not have it all. They are forced to grow up early, realize the pain and suffering of reality in moving to a brand new country with no one to guide or depend on. So, think about that next time you encounter an immigrant family and belittling their kid, because I was that kid once and trust me, it leaves an everlasting imprint on them for a very long time.