emerald bracelet

Relationship: Im/migrant

My father left me and my mom in Korea in 1997 for America in order to first establish himself and a home for the whole family. My mom and 10 month old me followed suit several months after. My parents lived an extremely comfortable life in Korea as he made a more than decent living as a manager for a floor of a department store which allowed my mom to stay at home. However, things worked differently in America; so my parents picked up the typical Asian immigrant trade of dry cleaning. It was both extremely difficult for my parents to adapt to this unfamiliar trade with the culture shock of their new environment and country overwhelming them. Their transition was rough but one thing that kept them grounded was family and their culture. Since I came here at the age of 10 months, I was able to celebrate my first birthday here - and in Korea, the first birthday is a pretty big deal. We call it doljanchi aka, the first birthday of a baby. My parents dressed me in the traditional garb (hanbok) and my family all came together to celebrate and bless me with a prosperous future. My parents gifted me with this emerald stone bracelet as the emerald symbolizes my birth month. I always had this bracelet with me as a reminder of the importance of cultural preservation and the immense sacrificed my parents made in order to pave the way for me to have a better future. 

Place(s): Queens, New York
Year: 1997

– SJ

Relationship:  Im/migrant Im/migrant