One Step Back to Take Two Steps Forwards

What was the environment in which you were raised? Describe your family, home, neighborhood, or community, and explain how it has shaped you as a person.

When I was younger, my mother attended ESL classes every Wednesday evening at our local church. When she came home, it was straight to the dining table to complete her given assignments. It would not be uncommon for her to take hours just finishing one activity, often erasing answers only to re-write them minutes later. Unlike my mother, I was very impatient. It came from my Korean roots, the “Bbali-bbali” pace of life which championed quantity over quality in the household. Even so, she remained patient and took time to understand every problem. I offered to do assignments for her so she could move on, not wasting any more time on something I saw as insignificant; however, my mother refused my help, telling me that “learning something for others” was “not a substitute for self-learning.” As she forced herself to repeat this long process every week, I slowly began to learn that being content with just “finishing the task” was not enough, and that true commitment to learning meant that quality, not quantity, was important.

Shopping for groceries every week with my mother was a test all in its own. She was forced to use all she knew of the English language; her thick accent and mispronunciations made conversations with employees...

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