Why I'm proud to be American

Today is the day. 

As much as I love to travel, I still call America home. No matter where I am flying from and how exhausted I am, I always walk through the US immigration overjoyed and elated. America is not a perfect country. After all, countries are defined by the people who inhabit them through generations. When a country is established by people who laid the basic principles of human rights but were also fed and clothed by human beings they owned, the country will have its growing pains. Nonetheless, America was built on the belief that "all men are created equal, that they are endowed...with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

There is no other country in the world where one can transform his or her dream into reality as long as he or she is passionate, willing, and, frankly, shows up. Sure, we can argue about privilege and the widening gap between the wealthy and poor. Capitalism, like America, has its flaws; however, one can't deny the power of the invisible hand and its ability to reward those who are brave enough to question status quo and create their own futures.

This is why I'm stunned to think why so many fellow Americans think our great home country needs drastic reformation. Why do they turn to Donald Trump as the person who can make this happen? 

I was born in South Korea during the eighties. My father was a mechanical engineer with a stable job at a giant Korean conglomerate. My mother was a nurse. At that time, Korean society (and even in modern times) hasn't been favorable to career-oriented women. For many Korean women, their future could only be one of the following: teacher, nurse or stay-at-home mom. A little after I was born, my father had the opportunity to get his doctorate degree at an American university. Pursuing this opportunity meant that my parents had to leave behind a stable income to move to a country where they didn't know the language nor had any family and friends outside of my father's older sister.

They chose to go anyway. It was not only my father's dream to get his PhD in America, but also I was a girl. I would have more opportunity in the US than I would ever have in Korea. For all they knew, I - and my future American-born siblings - could've been a dud. This didn't matter. America was the land of opportunity. In America, we didn't need chaebol (aka "rich family") connections to be successful. 

Fast forward to my senior year in high school. The first college acceptance letter I received was from the University of Chicago, one of my top choices. Funny enough, I almost didn't go. As much as America was the land of opportunity, an assistant professor's income didn't allow for a lot of luxuries. I also had a full scholarship to the accelerated medical degree program at a state university. A Korean parents' dream is to have their child become a doctor, so my father really pushed me to this option. As a first-born Korean daughter, I felt obligated to make my parents proud and pursue the more "stable" option, but my heart was set on the University of Chicago. 

On the last day of the month, I was at a competition at a park about an hour's drive away from home. Around mid-day, my parents dropped in with a surprise visit. My mother stepped forward and took me aside.

Mom: Where do you want to go to college?
Me: What do you mean?
Mom: You heard me. Where do you want to go to college?
Me: I thought I was supposed to go to SUNY Buffalo. 
Mom: That's not what you want. I'll repeat one last time. Where do you REALLY want to go?
Me: University of Chicago
Mom: Okay. I talked to your dad about it all last night. We brought your paperwork.
Me: What about the deposit to SUNY Buffalo?
Mom: It doesn't matter. Sign your paperwork. We'll get it to the post office today.

I asked my mother later that evening why she did that. She told me how she really wanted to study French literature, but she didn't have the luxury to choose as a middle daughter in Korea. When my father received the opportunity to study in America, she saw this as an opportunity to give me a future that she didn't have to begin with. 

I moved to America to see my daughter cry tears of joy about her future - not tears of sorrow.

That struck a chord. At that moment, I realized how much my parents, especially my mother, sacrificed in order for her children to have a better future. America is not only a place where there are more open doors for people brave enough to step though. In America, people can build their own doors to their dreams and inspire others to follow.

It is your patriotic duty as an American citizen to vote. It is also your moral obligation to make sure that the most unqualified, racist, sexist, dishonest, corrupt and immature Presidential candidate of American history does not get voted into the White House. 

I am proud to be American. I've been with her since the beginning, and I am with her now. Let's give young American girls and women the hope that they could be President of the United States one day. I don't care what anyone else says. America is great. Just like how we voted in an African American president eight years ago, I remain optimistic that America will not disappoint me. Once today is over, I hope we can move forward united and make America greater than ever before.