Voyager profile: Kelly! “Life is a struggle in the middle, but I make it work”
Kelly is a Korean-American girl who has, (contrary to what people believe that Asians have an easy life coming here,) a relatively difficult life being caught in the middle for many situations. When i met Kelly (so I can embarrass myself speaking Korean) I would have never guessed what her life story could have been.
She is definitely someone with strong desires and passions, and someone who doesn’t let any situation stop her from moving ahead. Like many Asians who immigrate here, she can of course speak her mother-tongue, but not so much write it, which isn’t a problem because everyone speaks English right? (Joke).
As a supporter of Voyage to Asia, I wanted to include Kelly in the “Voyager profile series” which is a small story or interview about the various people who make up “Voyage to Asia.” So without keeping you waiting, here’s a story from a different perspective, the more the struggle, the more she pushes.
Question#1: When did you come to America? Why? And how is like here for you?
Kelly: I’m not sure when exactly I came exactly; close to 4 years old maybe. So not being born here, but not growing up in Korea, it’s hard to identify in a group. My whole family moved here at that time, for various reasons I’m sure, but as far as I know, I’m American.
Life here was kinda difficult and it’s still a struggle in progress, but the more I struggle, the more I desire to keep fighting. Unlike most kids who immigrated young I don’t have my citizenship here…So being considered an international student at my university means I have to pay for college out of my pocket with no loans or financial aid. But it’s not like that is enough to stop me, it makes me determined to get through it.
Question#2: Wow, And what about immersion? Is it easy to hangout in Korean or Asian groups? Or do you hangout with other Americans?
Kelly: Well I don’t remember anything about my life in Korea so I’m very Americanized. Of course, I’m Korean-American, but for a while I had to decide for myself what I am. My parents and family members grew up in Korea so they had their values, but since I grew up here, I had different values and opinions from my environment and what I saw. Of course my family culture was one thing, and the culture outside my door was another thing, it became a fight to not only maintain myself, but to be able to adapt my personality depending where I am and who I was with.
Since I’m American and grew up as such it’s always easier to make American friends, but of course we lived in the Bronx, NY and far away from any other Asians, so this of course made me feel less Asian and definitely more American. Going to school in my area I would of course have many American friends and almost no Asian friends, not because I refuse my roots, but they weren’t really around. Also considering that my boyfriend is Dominican I would say that I’m good with non-Asians. That’s not to say, however that I don’t have Asian friends; My friend group is very diverse.
Final Question: Have you been back to Korea? If not why, if so was it strange?
Kelly: No I haven’t. The tickets are very expensive, and the timing is never right. I have wondered many times, and thought about going back,but honestly, these thoughts only occurred when I was in the neighborhood. Besides the culture was so weird and a lot of times was pretty interesting, of course I wanted to go back to Korea for a trip.
I wouldn’t mind visiting but there are many issues with doing such. And also, there’s no guarantee that I would be allowed back into America once I leave so I would rather not risk it. But one day, I will be able to visit and who knows. There are so many loose ends I need to take care here, and many things I need to put into motion, being from abroad, there’s a need to try twice as hard for everything. Also since I’m not a citizen there’s many things that limit me, but these are nothing but pending tasks, for the task master…
I make it work~