Family Photos

Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you, and describe that influence.

Nonchalantly browsing through family photos, I hastily flip through the pages when I suddenly get a paper cut. Blood slowly flows from a small slit on my finger and onto the plastic film. The blood lands on a particularly bland picture–but it instantly catches my attention. Humbly dressed, a younger version of my father stands with a stern look on his face while my mother grasps onto his hand, half-smiling. Looking at the picture, I can’t help but wonder: Why did they choose to make so many sacrifices to come to America and decide to start a family here? I jump from my couch with the album to find my mother. Holding up the picture, I ask the question. In response, my mother’s eyes well with tears. With a quivering voice, she sits down, takes a long look at the picture, and asks me if I am content with my life. She explains that she and my father had made the tough decisions to leave their family, home and lives back in South Korea all so that they could raise a stable family in America. With an unstable government, ambiguous education systems and a bad economy, life was not stable in Korea. Needing a quick decision, my parents took a leap of faith, hoping to make it in the “Land of Opportunities”. Leaving all of their comforts behind, they gathered their meager savings, purchased two tickets and packed what little they had to go to the foreign land. After 20 hours of flying, they squeezed their way through the doors of an airport in Phoenix, Arizona, luggage at hand, and asked a stranger in broken English where the nearest affordable place to stay was. After several frustrating minutes of flipping though a translation booklet and using body language, they headed towards to their hostel. Upon arrival, they entered a dark, disheveled, and tight room with a closet sized bathroom. With big sighs, they quietly accepted their circumstances as they placed their bags in the corner. Right away, my father attempted to read a newspaper to look for a job. Having no success in comprehending the advertisements, he decided to search by visiting random businesses. After days of painstaking searching, my father finally found a job as a dishwasher in a small diner. Because he took on the workload of two men, he asked for a raise but the manager denied his request. Even though he could not communicate, he knew he was being manipulated and deceived. Not wanting to give up his dignity, he stacked up the dirty dishes and left. Meanwhile, my mother was pregnant with me. I was born several weeks before my father found a job as a janitor in a grocery store. Working 18 hours a day and leaving my mother home with me, my father struggled to maintain his goal of building a stable family. My father walked every day to work because he couldn’t even afford to buy a car. At times, a police officer would take him to work and home. Because he didn’t have enough money, he sacrificed his own health to sufficiently feed my mother and me. While he fed us, he was malnourished and sometimes stole food as a last resort. My father worked efficiently and was very dependable. Being a victim of racism, my father was discriminated against and mistreated by his boss. Eventually, he quit his job again and went home. Because my father covered 18 hours a day, his boss had to find four people to cover my father’s previous shift. Tired and eager to start his own business, my father established a janitorial business. After five years, he yearned to go a step higher and searched for help from his sister in Washington State. After several days of business there, my father signed a deal and bought a small motel. Because of my father’s hard work and my mother’s care, everything progressed from there. Our family continued to move around the state and work hard to keep that dream alive. Without a doubt, I would say that my parents’ dreams have come alive. As I heard the end of the story, I realized that I had nothing to complain about in my life. Although the paper cut still stung, I knew I could not complain.The blood that crept out of my finger and crawled onto a picture that led me to a discovery I will never forget. I hold onto the picture because it reminds me of the story every time. It is through this picture that I am reminded of the great trials and struggles my parents went through, and I feel blessed and grateful for such strong parents. Whenever I feel like everything is going downhill and I want to give up, I whip out that picture and remind myself I should persist and keep my priorities straight to reach my goals. Because my father always wanted me to be the best, he set very high standards. Ever since I was younger, my dad made it clear that it was important to not slack off and excel in my academics. I worked hard and received straight A’s, was constantly admitted in the honor roll, and received academic recognition throughout school. Although I managed to meet these standards, there were many other standards he established. Most of the time when all my friends went out and had fun, I was expected to stay home and study more. Although at times I felt like socializing with my friends, I obeyed and studied at home. As a result of my hard work and many sacrifices under the constant surveillance of my father, I ranked at the top in all of my classes. The man in the picture, throughout my whole life has influenced me to work hard, to be persistent, and to never give up. Without my father, I would not be where I am today.

Leave a Comment