Recently, Buzz Feed came out with a video titled “When Your Parents Speak Broken English.” This video brought tears to my heart. People assume that after living in America for more than twenty years, my parents as immigrants and refugees would learn English. People ask me why don’t they just learn English? My parent had sacrificed a lot for me. My mother taking care of the children didn’t allow her time to go to school. How could she? Where was the time?
Having to balance two worlds, constant translation, at the store, on the phone, at home, I felt it was a burden. But growing up, I saw it as a gift. I would not be able to be bilingual if my parents didn’t come to the US so that I can have a different life than they did.
If you have not seen it, here is the link to the video. Highly recommend you watch it.
I remember being like seven years old and having to translate the mail for my mother. I could barely read or write in English at the time. I had to learn how to write a check so that I can help pay the bills. Random people showed up in our front door and my mother would say “No English.” Screaming our names so one of us could come running to ask what the person want. When she had to make doctor’s appointment, I remember her saying to the lady on the phone, “No English, talk to the Hmong.” This phrase stuck in head even till today. My mother told me “you are in school so you can learn how to speak and write in English, to help your life, to help your family.” Something along that line, it clicked I had to learn English although I hated English and school was hard because all I wanted to do was speak Hmong to my friends. English became my new world. It opened all the opportunities I could dream of. I had to think in English, speak in English and dream in English.
After twenty plus years, my parent sacrificed many things to get me to where I am today. I am grateful for my parent’s journey, for their persistence in my education, for their love and kind heart. Thank you, mom. Thank you, dad. For always doing what is best for me, and to teach me your ways of life by teaching me my native tongue. Learn to be more grateful for your parents who had sacrificed something for you.