Like many immigrants, my parents left their family and their home in Malaysia in search of a better life in New York. My sister was 4 years old and I was barely 6 months old when our father moved and a year later, our mother joined him. My father moved around, living with friends and family, until settling down with my mother in a tenement building on the Lower East Side. My mother found work as a seamstress in a garment factory in Chinatown while my dad eventually opened a Chinese restaurant in Midtown Manhattan. I was eight years old when I was reunited with my parents. My parents were very hardworking and lived simple lives so they can save money and ensure that my sister and I had the time and resources to study hard and get a good education. Working in the restaurant business meant that my father would still be sleeping when my sister and I went to school and we would be asleep when he came home from work. We only had time as a family on Sunday, when both my parents had days off. My father eventually sold the restaurant so he could spend more time with his family. I am the person I am today because of my parents’ determination and selflessness. This picture was taken in my father’s restaurant. It represents their struggles and their achievements and this t shirt is a symbol of our family’s immigrant journey.
– Simon Chiew