Dreams of My Parents
The American Dream is what you consider a ‘perfect life.’ A dream may seem perfect, but is life perfect? Many perceive wealth as the ultimate American Dream. Except, my immigrant parents believe otherwise. Growing up, my parents constantly stressed the importance of education and the freedom of religion. Coming from different backgrounds, they never even dared to dream that one day, they would come to America, and that one day, they would reside in the land of opportunities. I never really thought of this much. Taking education, the roof over my head, and food on the table for granted, I never put myself in my parents’ place when they were my age, facing many different challenges.
My parents grew up in separate cities; they both lived very different lives and had very different dreams. My dad grew up in a working class family in Hong Kong as a third-generation Christian. My mom grew up in a poor, lower-class family in Xiamen, China. Yet, they both had common areas where they dared not to dream. The United States of America, in their eyes, was only seen on a two-dimensional, blue and green map of the world.
At age 16, my father’s family had the opportunity to immigrate to America. My grandparents dreamed of coming to a new land filled with opportunities. However, establishing a different life in a new country became their reality. Completely building and starting a family-owned Chinese restaurant in Charlottesville, Virginia in the 1990s attracted many customers. Although they often faced work-related injuries, tiredness, and fears to make a living, they confronted racism and stereotypes.
At age 25, an educational opportunity to obtain bachelor’s and master’s degrees came to a studious, responsible student studying in Switzerland. My mom had earned an education in Switzerland during her first year of college. With hopes and ambitions, her American Dream of education made it clear. She worked hard and tirelessly just so she could return all that her family gave up for her to study abroad.
My parents later met and got married. They built a loving family who had privilege they did not have: to have equal education and the freedom of religion. Today, we use our voice to share the stories and dreams of our parents. The amount of bitterness they experienced is incomparable to what their children will encounter. We carry their stories and bring pride to show our appreciation. We look up to our parents as role models who have established a foundation for us. We thank them for our freedom and grow older to return to their hard work.
About The Author: This is an essay submitted by a high school student who wants to stay anonymous to protect the identity of her parents.