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Immigrant Heritage Month: Jieun Pyun
In honor of Immigrant Heritage Month, we're asking Bush Center staff to tell us about their heritage.
I was born and raised in a small town in South Korea called An Gang famous for its tomato farming. My mom owns a small shop that sells bedding and my dad is a construction worker. From the time I was little, I dreamed of setting off for a great adventure in Seoul, and worked hard year after year so that I could apply to a university in my dream city. Eventually, I was accepted to attend the university in Seoul. But within a few years, I felt drawn to explore my world further, and set my sights on the United States. Despite not speaking much English, and knowing that I would have to go on this adventure by myself, I booked my ticket to a land unknown with a promise to my parents that I would return in a year. As it turns out, I didn’t follow through on that promise.
In my now thirteen years in the United States, I have eagerly immersed myself into a new culture in search of my American dream. A lifelong learner and a first generation college graduate, I attended Brookhaven Community College to study English before transferring to Southern Methodist University to get my bachelor’s degree and an MBA. I met and married my computer engineer of a husband, also Korean, and we have a four year old bilingual daughter. And over three years ago, I took the opportunity to work for President Bush, one of my proudest moments, to direct a leadership program for Burmese democracy activists. It has been a unique privilege, and one I certainly did not anticipate on my journey along the way.
Of course, life as an immigrant has not always been easy. There were many times I wasn’t sure if things were going to work out. But if I know anything to be true it is this: America is full of great people who are willing to lend a hand and guide you along your path. They didn’t mind that I looked different or that I had different life experiences or that I didn’t speak their language. They took me in and became some of my dearest friends, mentors, and teachers.
The American dream is true. I really believe America is the place for people who dream of a better life. America provides opportunities for people who are willing to work hard for a better future. In this immigrant heritage month, I hope that America continues to be the place that welcomes people like myself from around the world and provides opportunities for them to achieve their version of the American dream.