Monday, December 17, 2007


“G” is a first-year Korean American undocumented student attending the University of California, San Diego. To protect her identity and family, we have not included her name.

From the Korean Resource Center and

THERE I was standing before a crowd of 100 people - their faces, I could not see because of the bright lights, bur-l could hear their thunderous applause. I was the lead and first chair of my high school orchestra and had just finished my solo on violin performing “The Theme From Schindler’s List.” As I bowed before the appreciative audience, I couldn’t help but think: The United States of America is a place where anyone can earn a position of distinction with hard work.

It was in stark contrast to an experience I had as a fifth-grader in Korea, my birth country where I grew up until age 12. My peers had voted me vice president of our class, and I was so excited. But that day, the principal called me into his office and asked me to give up my position. He told me that if you’re vice president, that means you have to help support the school financially, and he knew my family was not in a position to do so.

So he gave my title to one of my friends, whose parents were well-off and had called the principal campaigning for their daughter. All I remember is crying all day. My mom told me, “It’s OK. It’s not your fault.”

Five years later, I was in a country where I could earn and keep the title of first chair of my orchestra, though my parents were not rich or influential. This is what I love about America, my adopted country.

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