Everyone in my hometown dreamed of making it to the United States to achieve a dream of becoming something in life. I was no different. My friends and I would spend hours talking about the life we could have in America far away from the small South Korean village that we called home. One thing to understand about South Korea is its belief in the sanctity of family. Leaving that family to pursue a dream goes against everything in my culture, but I, along with others in South Korea have done exactly that over the years. Coming to the United States has opened my eyes to the possibilities that life and an education can provide. Inside, I am still that boy who yearned for something else in life-even if it meant leaving my family, my village, and everything that I had ever known my entire life for an adventure of the virtual unknown.
When I was just barely 18, I was still trying to make my way to the United States. In order to do that I needed money. I had no marketable skills, and I was still, for all intents and purposes, just a child. I knew that I needed to mature and have some life experiences in order to put myself in a position to realize my dream of living in the United States and attending a university there. I made the decision to join the South Korean Air Force. This made my parents very proud, and I did not have the heart to tell then that it was merely a stop gap on my way to eventually landing in America. That experience in the Air Force helped me to grow up and mature while also affording me the opportunity to save money for my next big adventure in America. It also instilled in me a sense of pride in work and a discipline to achieve whatever I set my sights upon. Four years ago I was discharged from the Air Force, but it would take another two years to make my way to America to chase my part of the American Dream.
I continued to pursue my dream by working for a local farmer. I made menial wages and performed back breaking physical labor, but I had the tenacity to stick with it because I knew that it would provide a means to an end. During this time, I had blinders on to everything else in my life. I did not have a girlfriend, I rarely went out with friends, and all I did was work and sleep. The discipline that I had learned in the Air Force served me well. Before I had gone into the Air Force I would have given up easily, but now I was as tenacious as a bulldog. I had not come this far to fail on the home stretch. Finally, the day came that my bank account revealed that I finally had enough money to make my move, but there was still one obstacle that lay in my path.
Prior to making the move to America, I had to somehow find a way to break it my parents that I was leaving. In the Korean culture, we respect our elders. My father, as the patriarch of the family, made all of the familial decisions, so I knew that I had to receive his blessing before I could go to America. I know that this is difficult for Americans to understand. After all, I was a grown up adult quite capable of making my own decisions, but if my father refused to give me his blessing then I would put my dream of going to America out of my mind and resolve to make my life in South Korea. I sat down with my father one afternoon and methodically laid out my plan for attending school in America and staying there to pursue a professional career in the computer industry. My father listened to me closely, and I guess he heard something in my voice, or saw a gleam in my eye when I talked about my future plans, for he saw fit to give me his blessing to fly the nest and travel thousands of miles away to pursue my dreams. I know that this was extremely difficult for both him and mother. When the day came for me to leave, we were all crying as I boarded the plane. We knew it would be a long time before we saw each other again. It was at that moment that doubt and fear crept in, and I wondered if I was making the right decision to leave. I boarded the plane with fear and trepidation in my heart. As the plane slipped farther away from my tiny South Korea, my spirits began to lift, and I was suddenly anxious to hurry and get to Houston, Texas to start my new life. After much research, I had decided to settle in Houston because I wanted to attend Texas A&M University. During my research, I looked at many universities and colleges all over the United States, but I kept coming back to Texas A & M because of its excellent, prestigious faculty as well as its reputation for preparing students for their careers. I knew that this school would help me meet both my personal and academic goals.
It is my sincerest hope that once I complete my undergraduate degree that I will be able to continue my education and get a master’s degree. I feel that education should be ongoing, and I consider myself to be a lifelong learner. As such, I would one day like to take back to South Korea my newfound education and knowledge to start a computer based firm that specializes in web design or writing code for new video games. My village where my parents live, in the same house that I grew up in I might add, is economically depressed, and that firm that I want to start would help to bring jobs to the area. In addition, doing something like this for my community would be bring much honor to my parents and my family. This is something that is also very important in my culture. However, my dream of bringing honor to my family is wrapped up in my dream of attending a major university in America. I feel that one cannot exist without the other. Everything in life begins with an education. In fact, all dreams begin with an education, and my dreams are no different.