Summer 1997. I’m 7 months old and my parents just came to America. I see my mom crying. My dad doesn’t look happy. He’s holding our passports and arguing with some man. Something bad must have happened. I wonder what it’s all about. Maybe they miss their family back in Korea.
Summer 1999. I’m 2 years old and my parents are really happy. My mom said that they got something called a green card. But it’s not really green, so I don’t know what they’re talking about.
Summer 2000. I’m 3 years old. I’m not an only child anymore. It has been six months since my little brother has entered my life and everything is different. But, it’s not that bad because he’s so cute and now I have someone to play with.
Summer 2003. I’m 6 years old. I just finished my first year of kindergarten, my dad took a lot of pictures throughout the year. He likes taking a lot of pictures. He says that I’m always going to be the model of his photos.
Summer 2004. I am 7 years old. I have twin little brothers now! I wanted a little sister because I already have a little brother but now I have three brothers. I don’t know if I like that. But oh well, they’re so small, I love them already.
Summer 2006. I am 9 years old. My mom came in and hugged me and my brother. She started crying. I don’t like it when she cries but I know that these are happy tears so I don’t stop it. She holds me and tells me that we’re now American citizens. She says that it's important because now I can go to college, go on vacations to other places, and a lot of other things. I still don't get why it's a big deal because I'm 9. Who cares about college?
Summer 2008. I am 11 years old. My parent’s are making me move to a different school for middle school. Apparently it's for better schooling. I like my school. Why do my parents always try to change my life? They don't know me. They don't know anything I’ve been through. I don’t want to move. I don’t want to make new friends. Why are they making me do this?
Summer 2009. I am 12 years old. We lost our house. We don't have a car. My mom’s business failed and now they want to take everything from us. I can't even ask for money for a notebook without feeling like I'm taking everything from them. I hate my family. I wish I could be like other people’s families where they can get whatever they want. I hate them. I hate my brothers. I hate my dad. I hate my mom.
Summer 2012. I am 15 years old. I just finished my first year of high school. It was horrible. My mom and dad found jobs and now we’re okay again. But, we need to move again because my dad wants to start a church in a different area. Why do we always need to move…?
Summer 2013. I am 16 years old. I love my new school. I finally feel like I’m doing well academically. I also met this guy at my church. He’s really great but my parents don’t like him. They say that we shouldn’t be together because of several reasons Why don’t they ever want me to be happy?
Summer 2014. I am 17 years old. I’m miserable. I don’t want to be in this relationship anymore. He doesn’t want what’s best for me. It’s abusive. I’m not happy. I don’t want it anymore. I should’ve listened to my parents. After I finally broke it off my mom held me and I cried for hours. She told me it was going to be okay.
Summer 2015. I am 18 years old. My parents are happy because I got into a New York University and I met a really nice guy. He's my best friend now. I finally know what it's meant to actually love someone. My parents like him too. Everything just seems so perfect. I don’t want to leave my family. I don't want to leave him. I don't want to leave a place that I am now comfortable in. I want to stay in California. I want to stay at home. I shouldn’t have taken them for granted…
Summer 2016. I am 19 years old. I'm back home now and am with my boyfriend, friends, and my family. I want to thank my parents every day. To let them know that I know how much they struggled. To let them see the type of girl I have grown up to be and the type of woman I aspire to become. The type of parent I want to be when I reach that stage in my life. For them to be proud of me. I love you, mom and dad. I always will.
To my parents, I love you and I know how much you struggled to provide for me. Without your love and support, I wouldn’t be who I am today. I love you.
Joyce Bae is a 19 year-old student at NYU. She travels from New York City to the Bay Area and back because of a special someone. She enjoys watching movies, eating, looking up puns (she's punny) and weird things to touch elbows when she says hi to people. Full disclosure- Joyce is a hugger. She is a 'cup is half full' kind of girl with unrealistic hopes and dreams, including saving the world someday *shrug*.