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Identity: In Between



Joined: 3/13/2013
Posts: 2
madgirl1117
“There are an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country. Rank the following scenarios according to who deserves the most sympathy and support, with 1 being most deserving and 9 being least deserving.”

I could anticipate the immense agony this handout would give me even before Mr. Garfinkel finished reading the instructions. My eyes landed on Scenario 4, in which a Ph.D. student in computer science needed a special visa to get a green card leading to citizenship, and I immediately marked a “9” next to it. I was proud to have come to one decision so quickly.

When my classmates began discussing their rankings, I sat back in my chair, astounded. Why did they think helping the Ph.D. student was more important than protecting migrant workers from exploitation and unexplained deportment? The general consensus seemed to be that the more professional, educated, and highly skilled people there are in the country to contribute to American society, the better.

“Guys, you can ‘contribute to society’ even without a green card,” I said, annoyed. “My parents have been doing so for over twenty years, and they only have working visas.” I saw eyebrows go up. I straightened my posture. “They pay taxes and everything, though!” I heard myself defensively add.

The thought of my parents filled my head despite the ongoing discourse. Logically, my reasoning was sound—but as I realized how easily my family’s situation could fit into this handout, logic didn’t seem to matter as much. What caught me was that I was essentially arguing against my parents’ case. Up until then, I had accepted that my parents had chosen to stay here. But really, what other choice did they have when my father’s company was based here, when my mom had access to the most film resources here, and when they had a daughter born and raised with “-American” tacked onto her identity?

As the bell rang, I calculated that my parents hadn’t returned to their homes for twenty-three years.

***


Each time I go to Korea, I am shuttled around to four or five households in the span of two months. I stay with my maternal then my paternal grandparents, my mom’s cousin’s family, my dad’s older brother’s family, and occasionally my mom’s best friend’s family for a few days each. Always, after the hugging, at least one hour is spent answering questions about my parents: if my father has a steady flow of work, if my mother was accepted at any new film festivals. Of course, they also ask how I am, how school is, how my friends are.

I am responsible for my parents’ portions of hugs, of emotion, of new memories. I smile three times as wide, and my eyes shine with three times the eagerness and warmth. On these annual trips, I serve as my parents’ only method of freedom, and I find myself wishing that they could experience the lightness of return, thin green cards weighing heavily in their wallets.
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Comment by thiegsr


Joined: 11/6/2008
Posts: 702
On behalf of the entire StageofLife.com editorial board, I would like to congratulate you for your Identity essay being selected as one of our top 10 essays for the September 2014 writing contest. Our editors are still voting on the winning essay, and if your essay is selected, we will contact you directly via your registration email and we will post a comment on your essay.

To view all the results of our September 2014 contest, please check our winners page on or after October 30th:
http://www.stageoflife.com/Writing_Contests/WritingContestWinners.aspx

Thanks for adding your voice to our mission “Changing the World . . . One Story at a Time” and feel free to share your accomplishment with the world.

Sincerely,
Rebecca Thiegs
StageofLife.com Co-Founder and Education Consultant
Posted: Tuesday, October 14, 2014 3:31:36 PM
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Comment by thiegsr


Joined: 11/6/2008
Posts: 702
I would like to congratulate you for your Identity essay being selected as our first place Teen Essay for September 2014.

To view all the results of our September 2014 contest, please check our winners page on or after October 30th:
http://www.stageoflife.com/Writing_Contests/WritingContestWinners.aspx

We will be contacting you via your registration email with more information and prize details.

Thanks for adding your voice to our mission “Changing the World . . . One Story at a Time” and feel free to share your accomplishment with the world.

Sincerely,
Rebecca Thiegs
StageofLife.com Co-Founder and Education Consultant
Posted: Tuesday, October 21, 2014 8:15:02 PM
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