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This I Believe - Episode 9

photo of GHS author Jung Park
Jung came to America from South Korea in 2009. She is currently in tenth grade. She loves to draw, paint, and play the guitar. She writes in her diary every day.

Importance of Life

By Jung Park

I had reason to doubt my mother. I was like any normal teenager, hanging out with my friends, studying right before the test and wanting to sleep longer in the morning. All those things were part of my daily routine. There weren’t really any “big” events in my life, but I realize now that those things were the most special memories in my life. Little things stay in my mind forever, especially after I experienced hardship.

Since the third grade my mom had been telling me we were going to move to America. Then it happened so suddenly. I was in a bookstore where I could read magazines and comic books for free, because of my friendship with the Ms Nabi. My phone was ringing loudly. I picked up the phone and it was my dad. He told me simply “the documents that we applied for were accepted.” My reaction to that was to not say anything. When my dad called me I was in middle school. It had taken six years to get the permanent residence card. For years, I had been telling my friends that I was moving to America. Now, my friends didn’t believe me. I had been a liar for six years.

I believe when you know the importance of life you will be brave, not afraid. I moved to America in 2009. A few months after I moved here, my sisters and I started to go to school. Everything was new. Not only the language. I didn’t know about the culture, school, people and everything.

On the first day of school, for the first block, I had ESL class where I could learn English. It was the only class where I could relax. Only the friends in that class understood me. I was scared to talk to anyone. When someone tried to talk to me, I started to get nervous and think of English vocabulary that I knew, so I could talk. But every time I faced that situation, I felt miserable and wanted to give up everything and go back to Korea. One day I was in math class and I was doing my work. A boy approached me and said something that I couldn’t understand. After that he asked me, “Do you understand what we are talking about?” I hardly understood what he said. To me, it seemed like he was speaking an alien’s language. I answered “yes” because I was afraid that other people might think I was stupid and if they did, they might tease me. As soon as he heard my answer, he started to laugh with his friends and I felt my tears trying to come out. After that I became a really quiet person who didn’t speak a word.

At that time my father was staying with us for six months out of the year and then he would return to Korea. Every time he came back he brought lots of books and Korean goods. I read one of the books that he brought. Before I read, I looked at the author’s profile. There was one quote that struck me. It said, “When you know the importance of life you will be brave, not afraid.” I thought about it for a moment. Then I thought about what is important in my life. I thought that despite how hard it is to learn new things, I really wanted to be better, even if I was afraid. From that day I decided to study English and speak to others. This year I tested out ESL. I believe when you know the importance of life and what really matters you will be brave, not afraid.


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