Dear First Gen,
(This is a chapter from the book, "The Rise of a First Gen".)
For many years, I could not forgive them. I was too upset with them for what they did.
It began in 3rd grade when I was introduced to the violin. I had violin classes during my math class and I loved it.
I learned how to play the strings and reveled at the music I was playing. I was given my own violin to take home and practice when I had free time.
My enjoyment turned to sadness when my math teacher told my parents that my grades were slipping. They told me we did not come to America for a low academic performance.
My parents did not have a conversation with me or give me a chance to improve. I was simply removed from violin class and my violin was returned to the music store.
No longer could I learn the melodies that brought a smile to my face. No longer could I develop the skills to play a musical instrument.
I remember this day vividly, but finally, on the first day of law school, I began to forgive them. More forgiveness came on the day I graduated law school. I continued to forgive them on the day I saw I passed the bar on the first try.
I fully forgave my parents when I was welcomed home after law school and encouraged to apply for jobs that would make me happy. And then, I got the call to work for the Senator I am working with now.
My parents were never worried about whether I would forgive them. They wanted me to enjoy an internship with a federal judge, intern at the White House, and represent vulnerable communities in need of a zealous advocate.
I ran into my 3rd grade teacher 3 years after graduating from law school. I told her she was the reason I did not learn how to play the violin, and she asked me about my occupation. When I told her, she said, “Well, now you have all the time in the world to learn the violin. You would not have time in the future to learn math."
All these years later, she clearly did not regret the information she shared with my parents. My parents were grateful for her insight, and I am also happy she thought about my academic success. Without that, I may not have found such rising professional success.
Your first-generation kid story may be similar to mine. I grew up close to my immediate and extended family, as well as family friends who belonged to the same cultural background as me. My uncle and cousins lived just one block from me.
It wasn’t clear that I had a different upbringing until I was in elementary school, surrounded by classmates whose parents were born in America. Growing up, I did not think anything of it when I was not permitted to engaging in certain school activities (although I was often sad about that). I was undoubtedly expected to focus all of my free time studying what was taught in class that day, as well as the next day's lessons.
Although my immigrant parents worked many long hours, they always managed to attend parent/teacher conferences. That only frightened me because if I did not perform exceptionally well, I would be required to put in additional study time to ensure that I excelled.
Growing up in my first-gen home, my family had expectations of me that some people might have considered unfair. But I have no doubts that they helped shape my experiences and continued success to this day.
Do you consider yourself a first gen?
What makes you a first gen?
Were you asked to make a difficult choice at a young age?
***Disclaimer: 2017. All rights reserved. All data and information provided on this site is for informational purposes only. No reproduction of any content on the website without the express permission of the author. The text, pictures and videos are the sole property of FirstGenRise.