Fresh of the boat... or plane

I would like to start off this TED talk by thanking my parents for making that risky decision to leave the only place, family, and friends they know as home to immigrate to a foreign country for the good of their entire family. Thanks mom and dad. I don't say it enough.

​At first, I laughed at the idea of my very Asian dad eating a bag of pork rinds. But the more I thought about it, the more I imagined a man in his mid-20s looking for something cheap to eat with broken English. It was hard to swallow. 

It’s scarily easy to constantly forget how much harder my parents had growing up compared to me. It’s also easy to complain about my parents' low effort in trying to affiliate with American culture or becoming fluent in English. Because that way, life would also be easier for me. Never would I have to revise their emails, translate conversations in public, and feel embarrassed about it. Terrible, I know. But whenever I catch myself thinking selfishly, I remind myself of everything that came before.


1988, my dad flew to Columbia, South Carolina while my mom stayed in China to give birth to my older brother. That was the first time he’s ever been on a plane. Once he stepped foot in the airport, he ran straight to the toilets to puke. It hurts to fathom the anxiety that ensues when you leave home and endure a 16-hour plane ride that just intensifies due to airsickness.


As a kid, I’d scream for McDonald’s whenever we’d pass by one and my mom would willingly take me to the drive thru. But one time she felt nostalgic and felt the need to let me know how different it was back then. Back when it was just her, dad, and my brother, McDonald’s was a luxury. On special occasions, they’d share a personal pizza. They couldn’t afford anything more yet my brother was still so happy. To think that I could munch on my own Happy Meal while my parents and brother had to share a small pizza upset even young, naive me. It hit hard.

There are all small memories that my parents keep a hold of and bring up whenever it comes to mind. But to me, they're poignant reminders of the sacrifices they made and the hardships they endured that keep me humble and utterly grateful. They ask for nothing else except my happiness and good health; but in my opinion, they deserve the world. I've made it my lifelong goal to give back to my parents who gave me everything.