In the U.S., the second Sunday of May is Mother’s Day and the second Sunday of June is Father’s Day. In Korea, there is a similar day called Parents’ Day. Parent’s Day is celebrated on May 8th to honor both mother and father.
For students like me who live apart from their parents, it is difficult to give the traditional gift of carnations. Although I am not physically able to present them with a gift, I did not want my parents to miss out while other parents in Korea received carnations from their children. Thus, this year, as Parents’ Day approached, I decided to write a letter to my parents in Korea.
Sitting with a blank sheet of paper before me, I struggled to find the words that best described my feelings and emotions for my parents. In fact, I could not write a single word for an entire hour. Although I enjoy writing, and have written numerous school papers, this one was particularly challenging for me.
When I first came to the States, I faced many difficulties while adjusting to my new environment without my parents. I missed my old friends in Korea as well as the food I used to eat. Often times, I made international phone calls to my parents simply to complain. After a month or two, I started to adjust to my new school and to make new friends; my phone calls home consequently became short and infrequent. Initially, I did not realize how my calls affected my parents.
Only when I came home for vacation several months later, did my younger brother tell me that our mom often cried after speaking with me on the phone. My mom felt guilty for being unable to console and care for me; she was an ocean away. She could not hug me when I was hurt and tired as other mothers would do. Although my struggles were not her fault at all, she worried much more than I did.
While I was preparing this letter for my parents, my mom called me on the fifth of May. In Korea, the fifth of May is Children’s Day. Children’s Day is a national holiday set aside for children and their families to spend quality time with each other. Often, children are taken out for special meals and are given gifts. It was my mother’s concern that her child would miss out on this special day, unlike the other kids in her neighborhood. She told me on the phone that she sent some Korean food as well as a gift package. She wanted me to know that I was remembered and loved.
Although my parents and I live apart for my education, I have realized I am not alone. Regardless of our physical distance, I have my family supporting me.
There are growing numbers of international students studying in the U.S. like me. We all go through many challenges without our parents. As we do, we realize their love and the importance of their presence. Since May is a family month, why don’t we take the time to express our love and appreciation for our parents? They, too, are anxious for us to share the daily happenings of our lives. They will always be by our side, listening to our stories and waiting for us to be together again.