My immigrant parents,
Thank you. I know it hasn’t been easy trying to raise me in a new country with a new culture, but that didn’t stop you from taking on the challenge. You constantly put my needs in front of your own to make sure that I succeeded in the America envisioned as full of opportunities. Without your sacrifices, I would not be anything near who I am today, and for that I am eternally grateful.
In my 18 years of life, you’ve done so much for me that it seems superficial to try and thank you for all of it in one go. It would be wrong to sell all that you’ve done for me short, so I want to thank you for 5 important life examples that you, my dear immigrant parents, have taught to me.
1) You gave me a sense of worldliness and a depth of understanding about culture.
As a child I never grew up wondering if there was more out there, I knew. I was never led to believe that the world was small. I was raised to understand that there were many cultures, languages, countries, and religions out there, and you raised me to respect them all. Lumping the rest of the world together as “other” wasn’t an option, and you gave up a lot so that I could experience this wonderful worldview. Thank you for ridding me of my ignorance early on and making sure I was a member of a global community. Thank you for helping me appreciate and understand the different kinds of people early on that now it’s just natural. And thank you for teaching me about my culture so I understood where I came from. Though I may not have embraced everything from my heritage, I was always given the opportunity to be an active member of our culture. I can’t imagine having grown up without special holidays, loud cultural gatherings, and ethnic food.
2) You taught me to work hard--no excuses.
Watching you work hard every single day after you gave so much up or put in so much effort to reach where you are was an inspiration. I may not have commented on it or may have taken all that you did for granted, but through your work ethic ingrained the importance of one in me. You never let me make excuses for bad grades, unmade beds, or unfolded laundry. You showed me that I should put effort into everything I do and work my hardest to achieve my goals. Subpar effort was never okay. Thank you for breaking me of these bad habits early on. I may have complained, cried, and done every obnoxious teenage thing in the book, but I’m better because of it, and I cannot imagine my life had I not been pushed to do my best every single day.
3) You were a good example of selflessness.
You didn’t complain. You guys had a hard life, and you gave up even more to get our entire family to where it is today. But you never threw that in our faces when we were ungrateful. You never made me feel lesser for not having gone through that struggle. You did everything in your power to give me what everyone else had because you felt I deserved it, even though it was you who had the harder childhood. You never asked me to do anything but to work hard in school and to be respectful. I want to say thank you for being true emblems of selfishness. You always put my needs first, even after all that you sacrificed.
4) You taught me that not being like everyone else was good.
Growing up and knowing you are different is hard. But I had time to adjust. You just moved here, and you had to figure out how it all worked. Thank you for being there for me when I had a rough day. Thank you for explaining why I’m different and not making me feel bad. Thank you for not letting me “just be like everyone else,” because it seemed easier. I appreciate you letting me figure out how I wanted to fit in on my own and for not letting me completely conform. I know it was hard when being part of another culture made me feel sad and separated but you guys taught me how to navigate the situation and be proud of my heritage instead.
5) You taught me that I have it good.
As hard as being first generation American is, it is nowhere near as hard as it could have been. Seeing what you guys went through to give me a better life made me realize exactly that—I have a better life. Thank you for everything you’ve done to push me and help me succeed in my life. You always want the best for me and I hope I can do just that.
Thanks Mom and Dad. I couldn’t have done it without you.
The Proud Daughter of Immigrant Parents