Everyone that came to America had the American Dream; however, the American Dream didn’t come that easily. There were many sacrifices that our parents had to make. And yet, the American Dream seem to be even further away just like how we’re always walking towards the sun but can never reach it. Many Hmong families still have lots of relatives back in Thailand and Laos and other countries like Australia and France. However, those in third world countries (Thailand and Laos) does not really seem to understand how we, Hmong Americans, live. Sure America sounds like the dream and anyone would want to live, but it’s not like money grows on trees Sometimes, I feel like they don’t certainly understand that while $20 seems like nothing and easy to earn, it’s actually hard to earn $20. And sometimes, we work so hard to just end up being poor.
My parents came to the United States, of course, they could have chosen to stay in Thailand, but what good would it be to live in refugee camps for the rest of their lives. The United States was the better choice. When they came to the US they didn’t know a single word, my dad wanted to go to school but at the end decided not too. Instead, he took part -time jobs working to provide for my mom, my grandparents, his younger brother, and my older sister who came to the US when she was an infant. Moreover, he didn’t really get the moral support from my grandparents to go to school.
Most of the time my parents could not get the stuff we wanted and each time we asked they opt for a cheaper option, like if we asked for a $20 toy, they would handpicked a $15 toy. Or they would tell us “next time” if the younger siblings asked for something more expensive. The stuff we wanted we almost never gotten it, but we always got what we needed. And when my parents are able to save up enough money, we get what we want. When I was younger, I never noticed my parents buying anything for themselves. As I grew up, I started to notice my mom picking up a nice shirt or skirt, but would end up putting it back on the rack because the cart were already full of our stuff. I would see my dad looking at a couple watches, but never buy it. They would look at a few kitchen itineraries and would always say “later when we have enough money.”
I don’t actually have that much memory of my dad playing with us because he was always working. He is a busy man. So, when I hear my friends share memories of them and their dads, it kind of hurts but what can I say besides that life isn’t fair for most of us. I mean my dad spent most of life working to provide for six kids and not mention that once in a while we would receive a phone call from a relative asking for money. On the other hand, I have lots of memories with my mom as a child because she stay home with us, but that doesn’t stop her from working. She signed a contract with hosiery companies and seams socks at home all the time. Every morning around 5:30 am, she would wake us up to school, and while we take our time waking up she’s been on the machine since 4:30 working to reach production.
When we got older and went to college, most Hmong parents went ahead and laid out their children’s future out for them. My parents let us choose what we want to do, even though we might not be able to find a job right away or even if it takes longer for us to reach our goals. They support us no matter who says what about us. We applied to many colleges, public and private. They tell us “go and let us worry about the money.” Well, we definitely did that. My older sister and I attended private colleges. She didn’t take out as much loans because she received scholarships. I, on the other hand, even with my 4.2 GPA only received one scholarship, Asian Pacific Islander Scholarship Fund (she also received that), and few from my college. However, I took out a private loan and always requested the maximum amount of loans I can take out. My campus was ridiculously high for such a tiny private school, but tuition is always rising nowadays. Tons of loans, and while I plan to go back to school, my dad still tells me “take out loans if you need too. It’s not because you want too, but you need it. Don’t worry about money, let me worry about that.” Well, yeah but now I’m starting to worry about my student debt a well, but with my parents still alive, me living with them, and them supporting me it’s more of a less thing for me to worry about.
My parents made sacrifices, in fact, they spend too much time working that before they knew it their children were all grown up, reaching puberty, having mood swings, and getting their driver’s permits to licenses. They were in fact almost always gone working, while we were left with our grandparents or alone. But don’t worry, we live in a safe neighborhood with our three other uncles and grandparents. By the time they knew it we (or most of us) were a head or two taller than them. Partially, they missed out on seeing us grow up. Half the time I feel like they were not there, I feel upset and angry. However, later on I learned to appreciate the space between them and me because they were always working so hard and still are working hard.