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Journal Entry

In: Social Issues

Submitted By kitterz49
Words 1283
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Journal Entry
Jennifer Augustus
ETH/125
July 17, 2011
April Dreeke

Journal Entry
It's been three days of rain now, with no end in sight. Sometimes I wonder if this whole island might one day be underwater from all the rain. My friend Irini says that the ocean swallows the water, and the island could never be covered. I listen, but I'm not sure even she believes everything she says. My name is Suri Songhai, and I live in Hawaii, the year is 1922. I came to Hawaii because my family enlisted a nakodo’s (go-between) on my behalf in my homeland of Korea, to find me a husband to take care of me. Many Korean men have been leaving our poor area outside of Okinawa to find more lucrative work. There have been quite a few who leave with the intent of working in Hawaii and building a beautiful home and having a family. There were many stories at the time of how well Korean mother's sons were doing in Hawaii, many pictures of homes, properties, beautiful beaches, gardens and animals. Additionally, a monthly check is sent from the sons to support their families back home in Korea. Many hundreds of young men have left Korea to work in the sugar cane fields in Hawaii. Families never know of the hardship their son's suffer, as the son's would never say; it would do no good to have their families worried or afraid for them. So they put on a happy face for all of the pictures, and sent as much money as they can without starving. Mothers of daughters saw these things and wanted their daughters to marry these successful men and live the beautiful life they saw in pictures. So they hired nakodo's to find suitable partners for their daughters, and would send our pictures to Hawaii, and so we were called "picture brides". My nakodo's name was Daka, and he never, ever smiled, even when my baby brother giggled and fell, Daka didn't even look at him. I wondered how such a sour man could be in the business of love and marriage, but when I tried to ask my mama she only got angry and told me to be quiet. I think she is sad that I will be going so far away. I know I will miss her, my father and my baby brother, but i am also excited about going halfway around the world for a new life. Within two months Daka had found two men that wanted a bride and my parents went to meet with their parents, so they could make the final decision. I saw the pictures of the two men, one sitting on a mule, and the other standing in front of a house near a forest. I tried very hard to look at their faces, and see their eyes, but the pictures were very small and blurry. I think you can tell a lot by looking in someone’s eyes. It didn't matter, because within a few days the man in front of the house was decided on and a date for me to depart was set. I would travel many days by ship to reach Hawaii and once there, my husband would pick me up, and I would start a new life as the female head of my own home. The trip to the island was long and crowded, over 100 women left with me for their new homes and husbands, it seemed to take forever to arrive. However, once we reached the island we forget about the harrowing trip as we basked in the exquisite weather, and saw the beautiful landscape, birds, ocean, and beaches. Once we landed, we were driven for a very long time, away from the beautiful beaches and into a forest filled with strange sounds and many biting bugs that would drive me crazy swarming around my face. I waited with other brides at a designated location as one by one; their husbands would come to get them. One woman in particular objected to leaving with her husband because he looked over 20 years older than his picture, she cried and pushed him away, but he explained to her that if she did not return with him then when night came she would be sitting here alone in the forest, prey to people and wild animals, so she eventually left with him. There were only four of us left when my husband arrived. He did not look 20 years older than his picture, but he certainly did not look as young as he did in the picture. I was relieved to see that he had kind eyes, and when he shook my hand, I think I saw him blush. I heard later that one bride was never fetched and she sat there for three days before she was taken in by a local family.
My new home was small and looked nothing like the picture he sent, and when I mentioned it he said it was the house of the man he worked for. As I unpacked my kimonos and dresses in beautiful colors and fabrics, he told me to put them away, that he had purchased clothing for me when he knew that I would be coming. A long skirt that could be tied in the middle, made from rough cotton, a long sleeve cotton blouse, an old pair of leather shoes with no laces and a wide brimmed straw hat to protect my face from the sun. All of these items were foreign to me, they looked dirty and old, and I wondered what people would think of me going in the street dressed like this. Amazingly the next day as we walked to the sugar cane fields to work, I noticed everyone was dressed the very same way! Some people did not even have clothes as nice the ones I was wearing, or walked in the fields barefoot. The work was back-breaking hard, and there were times when I felt I could not go on one more day, but I did, because here in Hawaii, the women are expected to earn money just like the men. The hard thing to accept is that women make only a little over half of what the men make in a day.
I've been here now for over a year and although times are hard, we are making a living for ourselves and are able to send money to our families. We are expecting a child in a few months, and I have stopped working in the fields, and am now mending clothes for some of the single men on the island. Clothing is expensive so it is cheaper to fix what you already have than to buy new ones. My husband worked as a driver in Korea and is hoping to get a driving job here that will pay him more money. We have even talked about moving to California, as many of our relatives live there. For now, we are going to stay. There is talk of possible war, and it is uncertain how that would affect the lives of the Asians living in the mainland, so we will wait before deciding on a move. Once the baby is here, it will make our family complete. Yes, life is not easy at times, but I feel lucky that I am having a child, and that I met a man with kind eyes.

References

Into The Marketplace, Picture Brides -http://www.soc.hawaii.edu/hwhp/hawork/itm.picturebride.html
Picture Brides/Film - http://www.picturebridefilm.com/woven.html
Korean Americans - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korean_American

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