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Facing Poverty Witha Rich Girl

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“Facing Poverty with a Rich Girl’s Habits”
Suki Kim
Nov 2004 a Rich Girl’s Habits”
In this essay I will be discussing “Facing Poverty with a Rich Girl’s Habit” by Suki Kim (2004) In the essay Kim talks about how her childhood went from having everything to barely surviving.
During the essay Kim will compare the battles of herself and family when forced to move from Korea to America.
Kim was born in South Korea in 1970. She was from a wealthy family where she lived in a mansion on a hilltop that had ponds and peacocks. Kim’s dad was a millionaire. Kim’s world came crashing down as her millionaire father lost everything in a blink of an eye. Kim’s dad shipping company, mining business and hotels all tanked which caused the family to go bankruptcy. In Korea bankruptcy is punishable by a jail term. The family fled to America penniless.
Once in America Kim’s family called Queens their home. They lived in a two story brownstone that was owned by a Korean family that ran a local dry cleaner in Harlem. She was forced to be friends with the Korean family sons due to Kim’s language barrier.
Kim didn’t understand how the kids called her F.O.B “fresh off the boat” when she actually flown on Korean Air to Kennedy airport. {Kim, 2004} At the age 13 Kim was taking public transportation instead of being driven to school by a driver. Kim now had to do homework alone and noticed the house would get messy without any maids around to clean up. Kim felt humiliated by carting the family dirty clothes to the laundromat. A place she called bleak. Kim had a hard time fitting in considering she looked different and barely spoke English. She witnessed her mother who was part of the high society in Korea to turn into a fish filleted in America. “One new fact that took more time to absorb was that I was now Asian.” {Kim, 2004”} A term that was found offensive; because yellow skin reminded her of the flower forsythia that separated her estate from the houses down the hill.
Kim learned the difference between Korean schools versus American schools. In Korea students were taught to bow to show signs of respect to the teachers. While American students didn’t bat an eye towards the teachers entering the room. Kim witnessed a couple French kissing while attendance was being taken. American girls wore skin tight clothing while Korean girls wore slippers to keep the school clean. While in school Kim was in ESL (English as a second language) {} where she can speak her 1st language Korean with her fellow Korean students. Reality set in as speaking with her fellow Korean students that “the wealthier “Korean immigrants attended private schools where he classmates came from poor families that escaped Korea. {Kim, 2004}
Kim described herself as the 1.5 generation. The 1.5 generation was Koreans that came to America as teens but already rooted with Korean ways and language. Kim clashed with the first Korean generation and definitely the second Asian-American generation. Kim felt the 1.5 generation can adapt to all cultures. Rather it be dancing to American hip hop or singing Korean pop songs.
Kim took with her that she should be grateful for what you have, there may be someone in the world that is worse off than yourself. Even though Kim was facing poverty with rich girls habits her mind frame never changed or wilted. As the year went on the family moved to a better neighborhood in search of better jobs and education. As Kim bettered herself she is now volunteering as an interpreter.

Kim S New York Times 2004

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