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Soyeon Kim

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Jessica Soyeon Kim was born in South Korea in 1993. Her family moved several times for her father?s job, and she grew up in South Korea, Canada, and the United States. She is an engineering student at the University of Georgia.

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0:04:11

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Please contact Immigration History Research Center staff for permissions not covered by this Creative Commons license.

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Jessica Soyeon Kim Transcription
Everything Happens for a Reason

Sangah:This is the story of my friend Jessica Soyeon Kim.
Jessica: Out of my 22 years of life, I lived in three different countries, and lived in 15 houses. My family started off in Asia and ended up in North America. This is the story of how my family immigrated to the United States of America.
(Korean) 11월 22일 1993년 새벽에 저는 대한민국에서 ‘김소연’ 으로 태어났습니다.
(Translation: Early morning of November 22, 1993, I was born as Soyeon Kim in South Korea.)
My family moved to America in 1997 because my dad was assigned to the Hyundai laboratory in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Because I spoke Korean at home and English at school, I was able to communicate in both languages within a short period of time. On the other hand, my younger brother did not talk until he was four. My parents were extremely worried. However, looking back at it now, we believe that being exposed to both languages caused a collision for him.
I was a very timid child, so I had a tough time getting used to the new life style. I refused to go to school because I was nervous and scared. I had headaches, stomachaches, and would even throw up sometimes. Apparently my parents sent me to the doctor because they thought I had some kind of illness.
(Korean) 2002년에 우리가족은 경기도로 이사를 갔습니다. 편안한 생활을 벗어나 새로운 환경에서 새 친구들을 사귀어야하는 것은 힘든 일이었습니다. 저는 한국어를 할수있었지만 같은 반친구들과는 달랐습니다. 받아쓰기에서도 항상 낙점을 받고, 학교 숙제를 할때도 남들보다 시간이 더 오래 걸렸습니다. 이러한 이유로, 다시 학교에 가는것이 꺼려졌습니다. 저에겐 예전 선생님, 예전학교 그리고 예전 동네가 더 좋았습니다. 하지만, 다행히 시간이 지나면서 점차 새로운 곳에 적응하며 친구들도 많이 사귈수 있게 되었습니다.
(Translation: We moved to Gyeonggi Province, South Korea in 2002. Since I had to make new friends in a new setting, I felt uncomfortable. I had to leave my comfort zone. Although I could speak Korean, my classmates were on a different level. I would always fail spelling quizzes and take a longer time doing school work. Again, I did not want to go to school. I liked my old teacher, school, and neighborhood better. However, as time went by, I slowly adjusted to the new place and made a lot of friends.)
After living in both countries, my parents preferred the living style and education system of the U.S. They decided to immigrate to America. The process took several years, so before it was too late for my brother and me to learn English, we moved to Canada in 2007.
A year later, we were notified that the immigration process was completed. After finishing up all the documentation, we packed our stuff and drove from London, Ontario to Statesboro, Georgia. It was difficult interpreting what people were saying because of the strong southern accent. It took me a while to get used to it. Getting used to all the attention was something new as well. There were not many Asian people in Statesboro, so they would always assume that we were Chinese. Students would say “Ching-Chong-Ching” behind our backs and make fun of us. In 2009, we moved to Newnan, Georgia because of my dad’s job. After graduating from high school in 2012, I moved to Athens, GA in order to attend the University of Georgia. I am currently majoring in Mechanical Engineering.
Within 22 years, I changed my name and country of citizenship. Last April, my brother and I became citizens of America. From Soyeon Kim, I became Jessica Soyeon Kim. Dramatic changes in life can be scary and even questionable. However, over the course of immigration, I came up with a life motto: Everything happens for a reason. Living in America helped me with English, living in Korea helped me with Korean and to build up my identity, and coming back to America, it shaped me to be who I am today. Even though I may have wished that it wouldn’t have happened at that time, I am glad that everything happened. So, this is the story of how my family immigrated to America. I hope you enjoyed it! Thank you.