Nam Yi Kim, 46

Immigrated from South Korea

"One step closer to the life I dreamed of in my sleep..."

Lauren C.

Nam Yi Kim

December 16, 2019

My mother tried to speak English, but as her words jumbled up into unknown fragments, she gave up and resorted to her native language. English changed her words into simple, short sentences that didn’t reflect her thoughts. In Korean, the variety of her words were so astonishing. Her thoughts are complicated and worldly. 

In May 2002, my mother first came to America to learn English. She was living in Maryland with my aunt to start her career. She reunited with my father and married. My mom could’ve moved right away and immigrated, or she could have waited another five years to get permanent residence to America. She continued to debate with herself.

My mother never planned to move to America permanently. She was only there for her short program to learn English. She planned to move back to her mother’s house, to find a career and live close with my grandmother. My mother and grandmother were close, even when my mother’s three other siblings shined in the spotlight. It was hard for my mother to move away because of their bond. “Even if there were better opportunities, I had a plan to live close to my mother. It was still hard to reimagine my life in a different continent.”

My mother planned to live close with my grandmother, and when my grandmother found out that my mother would be immigrating to America, the idea wasn’t completely supported. But my mother realized that in America, she could live a healthier and more comfortable life. She chose to move. Her parents respected her choice, even when they didn’t want their youngest daughter to leave. 

At the airport, my grandmother and mother sat, holding hands. My grandmother realized that her daughter decided to move to America for her own future, so my grandmother respected that. My mother beamed, face full of tears. She walked her first step into America as a citizen. “America brings me one step closer to the life I dreamed of in my sleep.”