Remembering My Roots: Celebrating my Korean Heritage During AAPI Month
Have you ever passed by a patch of ground with nothing to look at, and then a few weeks later, pass by again but see sprouts of something green in that same patch? And then a few more weeks pass by, and there are now pretty flowers which have bloomed? This picture of a blooming flower came to mind, as I took a few minutes to reflect on my heritage and its foundation, as we celebrate Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders’ heritage this month.
My parents, who are my roots, were immigrants to the U.S. Having left their home country, South Korea, right after they were married, they came to the States together to build a new life in a new home country, seeking opportunities for the start of better things and in hopes of furthering their education. In recollection of the beginning of their journey, I’ve heard of “how different things were back then” and that my mom and dad both started working right away to provide for our family – learning English along the way. Though they’ve never said so much in words, there are times I stop and try to imagine what my parents experienced, endured, and overcame in order to create a life for me, my two younger siblings, and future generations to come, so that we lacked nothing while growing up and had what was needed to go to college, and could dream of things that may one day be achieved.
I am like the flower that was able to bloom beautifully, because of good, strong, and solid roots. I would never be able to express all the love and gratitude I have, for my parents who have done everything they can to help me become the woman I am today. I am a 2nd-generation Asian American, immensely blessed to have inherited my Korean heritage as well as my American nationality, having been brought up in a home rich in language (speaking mainly in Korean and sometimes in English for balance, since we spoke only English during school hours), foods (cooked by both my grandmother and mom, whose talents I have yet to get close to), and family. Much of what was a part of my life growing up, is also transparent in many aspects of my life now. It is a sincere hope that my generation may too, pass down what we’ve been gifted with and exemplify the kind of roots needed for future generations to bloom well.
After joining the Ribbon team, I realize yet again how important it is to share diverse cultures with those around us. It has been wonderful to see how more and more of the Asian cultures have been tasted, heard of, and are now so appreciated! First and the most obvious are the various cuisines. There’s Chinese or Thai take-out, Vietnamese Pho, Indian curry, Korean barbeque, and Japanese sushi or ramen that many of us greatly enjoy with our families and friends, either on a regular basis or for a special occasion. Then, in other industries, Asian skincare products and daily routines are being recognized globally in beauty and wellness for notable results. Asian pop artists are being nominated for the Grammy Awards, actors received Oscars and an Emmy very recently, and several films have won Academy awards for best picture. In addition, there have been quite a few Asian contributors in various sports and worldwide competitions.
There is a rising awareness and acknowledgement of the things that are so special within each Asian community, and it is incredible and exciting to witness the growing love and appreciation!