Friday, July 16, 2010

Long road to Greatness?

I remember watching "Murphy Brown" years ago - yes many years ago! and remembering this one particular show. Murphy was diagnosed with cancer and in the process of receiving many bouts of chemotherapy. At the hospital, she would sit in the waiting room and tell the other cancer survivors that it was getting harder and harder after each and every session.

Perhaps, I thought, the show's message was that recovery, or life itself would get harder as time went on. And, for me, that has come true.

Its been 7 years since I graduated college and my life has been hectic. Today, I had to reject so many applicants for an apartment for rent. And then fly to the store to help with the business there. You would think I would have some help for one or the other. But noooo, I have to do both!

My parents are getting older and have made many irrational decisions as they've aged. And it seems that the pressure and burden has fallen entirely on my shoulders. I've always justified it, saying that if I wanted to be a good son, I should do this for them. However, I think this "role" of a good son all these years has squeezed so much time, and energy out of me, that I've forgotten how to enjoy my life.

And really, quite honestly, I don't mind helping out my parents. Its just that its become too much at times, and they think that everything can be done in 5 minutes. Seriously, how do you refinance a house in 5 minutes? Or paint an apartment? Or consider dozens of applications in less than an hour? Its impossible! Yet, they think it can (and should) be done within time frame!@

Also, did I mention that I do Dream Act "work"? That in itself, should be my main focus, but its just an integral part of what I do. And when you have sooo many things to do, and sooo people counting on you, you're "compromised" to juggle things around - which shouldn't be juggled around, like going to Dream Act events. And yes, I'll be in DC for one day, next week. Just one, maybe two, as I do have to go back home and tend to a sick parent and the demands of my life, of course.

I just hope though, that all this is worth it - that its all designed for me to be that great federal judge, who goes on to the Supreme Court, and then (many years later) to Heaven. Its just been a looooong and bumpy road. I can't tell you how many days and hours I've wanted back. Or the fact that I wanted my life back. And when you're a Dreamer it just makes it more and more difficult to be free, esp when you live in an invisible prison, stuck behind these invisible bars. But, I believe God has a plan for our lives and asks us to be faithful. And if we are, then I'm sure He can turn any situation around, use our trials and tribulations to our advantages, and then, perhaps if its in His will, make our Dreams come true. That I can only hope for, and pray about, esp right now. :)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Awareness --> Prevention --> Saving of many lives

This past month of June was just soooo busy! I finally had my Garifuna Coalition presentation for the Dream Act. (In case you didn't know, the people of Garifuna are an ethnic group of mixed ancestry who live primarily in Central America.) So when they come to the US, they travel on visas, which then may expire. Thereby, leaving them undocumented. So, whenever that does happen, the Dream Act would play a prominent role in their children's lives.

It was an hour and a half presentation with 22 Powerpoint slides. I thought about it; thought about it; and thought it some more, on each and every slide. After all, there was a lot of information to cover. And yeah, I can sit here and relate each individual fact and figure, but there was something different in my presentation this time.

I remember that I had made a vow, months ago - that the next time I would speak for the Dream Act and undocumented students, I would mention the suicide and depression aspect. I felt that if God blessed me with the opportunity, I should be out there, helping those that are depressed due to their undocumented status.

Some of us know the story of Gustavo Rezende, and it is quite sad. I personally feel that there are better ways to handle such a situation. But when you're 17-25 and deal with such a difficult situation in life, "how do we help such people?" is my question.

As for right now, in this blog, I'm just going to say what the emphasis was in my speech for the depression and suicide segment - that I hope by talking about this it would first lead to awareness, which would then lead to prevention, which would ultimately lead to the saving of many lives. I sincerely wish that my speeches would lead to this result - as noble (and grandiose) as that might sound. Or just be the start of something...

Whereas, I can only imagine that studies will be done on the issue of suicide and depression on undocumented youth. Also, as well as prevention methods to dealing with such an issue. I just have a feeling that more needs to be done from the mental health community AND everybody in general, esp if this trend continues.

And, would you know that I did mention this in another speech? This time for the Advancing Justice Conference in Alexandria, VA. Many/all in the audience didn't know that undocumented students went through such a devastating (mental) health aspect in their lives. They would tell me that all they thought they suffered from were the loss of a "good" job, school, or car. "Hmmm," I thought, "Maybe it was a good thing I did mention this, so it could be something that people actually think about as it relates to undocumented students." I just would never would want another human being to suffer in silence, then do the unthinkable, esp if they thought nobody could or wanted to help them.

I'm going to finish up and say that its a tough road - which we call life. And as I've gotten older, I think its how we handle our problems and/or roll with the "punches", which either makes us or breaks us. Its never going to be easy, and maybe that's a good thing. When we are challenged, and defeated (possibly many times), and are able to get right back up, perhaps we are able to grow and know what we're really made of. And if so happens to be that you're the one giving speeches and presentations, I think it helps being a little bit "different" and to think outside the box for the good of the people.

I just hope that all this makes sense, and lives are saved. That really is my hope, and my dream.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The reality of hiding, I cannot take this anymore...

Today, was a crazy day. First, the NYSYLC kicked off their "Trail of Dreams" in support of undocumented youth and the passage of the Dream Act. We were scheduled to walk for 7 miles in the inaugural "trail" from noon to 3pm. (We did start at noon, but actually finished at 5:30!) Anyway, many came and walked to show their support for immigrant youth and our quest for legalization.

But this day, I'll remember most for is that I came out in a Korean newspaper article for the Dream Act, which coincidented with the "Trail of Dreams". The article (whose title is the heading) detailed how I initially discovered my undocumented status, as well as my journey from college to my present day situation. It also talked about my activism at Brown University and my desire to work for ALL undocumented youth (an estimated 3 Million) in the U.S. And, the thing that I wanted to do differently for this article was to stress a hopeful message as I realized that "few" undocumented youth have died tragically (via suicide. Especially, one very recently.) That's not something I wished to talk about, but I felt I had to. I had wanted to raise awareness, which would lead them to find support, which ultimately would save lives. Basically, to give them hope to move them out of their state of depression, despair, and anxiety. That even without paperwork, they too can be "out and proud" and make their lives better.

Remember, there are very few Asian-American Dream Act Activist, and my picture made the paper! I'm pretty sure I was the first one (or one of the first) who ever talked about this openly, in the New York (Korean) newspaper!

However, my "openess", or activism did come at a price. My parents, esp my mom, became furious over the article. They questioned me, asking me why I was being so open and "out" there. "Why are you putting us in danger?!", she screamed. "And how is this helping the Dream Act?!" I would reply, "People are dying. I couldn't not think about them. I wanted to let others know that there is hope and not to give up." She answered back, "Then what are you going to do, save everybody?" My response, "Sure, let it be on my shoulders then."

This actually reminded me of a scene in The Dark Knight between Bruce Wayne and Alfred.

(Background: The Joker had been killing innocent people to make Batman take off his mask. He was "bloodying" Bruce's hands, basically forcing him to retire.)

Bruce: People are dying, Alfred. What would you have me do?

Alfred: Endure, Master Wayne. Take it. They'll hate you for it. But that's the point of Batman, he can be the outcast. He can make the choice that no one else can make, the right choice.

And yes, Bruce couldn't endure it. He quit (initially). But that was just a movie. What happens when this is real life? Then I think you have to make the hard choices. The most difficult choices are the ones that reveal your character and eventually show you what your made of. And time will tell, if this was the right choice.

Yes, I know my parents are angry. They have a lot at stake. And I might not be the legendary "Batman". But I do hope this blows over in my family. It might take some time though. Maybe a lot of time. Its just that I felt I owed it to the Jong-Min's out there to work for the Dream Act. To be "out" there at Brown. To be on the radio. To be in journalism projects. To be in newspaper articles, which includes the Pacific Citizen last September. After all, 1 in 5 South Koreans are undocumented. And, the rate may even be higher. (Esp, in this post 9/11 world.) And if all these students happen to graduate college - like I did 7 years ago - and the Dream Act still hasn't passed, then what's out there for them? That's right - nothing at all. That's why we so desperately need the Dream Act. We need it to move on with our lives. To stop being afraid AND to have peaceful families, especially if one is such an open and honest Activist (in a very stereotypical Asian family.)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Fellowship group, part 2

Last week, I attended my fellowship group. It was the day after my birthday, and I didn't expect anybody to remember. Heck, I'm not sure of anyone's birthday in there as well. So lo and behold, I was received very warmly and told, "Happy Birthday" by members! I even received cake as well, but that was just a fortunate coincidence, as the hosts had celebrated someone else's birthday. But I'm not complaining. After all, cake is cake, no?

Anyway, it was good to be back. I've missed some/many meetings due to the craziness of the grocery store, LSAT prep, house repair work, etc, etc. And I enjoyed some of the small chat, as I've been gone "some" time. Unfortunately, I even had to leave early, as the demands of the store, forced me to say, "Goodbye" around 9:30 pm. But it was just as I was leaving, which I'll remember most.

Tony: (talking to the group leader) So, as you can see. Wait Jong, are you going?

Me: Yeah, but I didn't want to interrupt. I'm just quietly going on my way.

Tony: Get outta here! No, wait. I didn't mean it like that. But, yeah, it was good to see you. Happy Birthday by the way.

Me: (now, with the whole group watching me) Well, thanks. I have to get back.

Amy: (group hostess) Happy Birthday too! Why do you have to go?

Me: My dad is always worried about thieves and robbers. And sometimes, when you're always out saving the world, you have little time for other things. (This is in reference to my work for the Dream Act too, which few of them know about. Nevertheless, the members that do know my secret, nod, knowing I'm referring to that work as well.)

(continuing on): Thanks everyone. See you guys next week! Yeah, go, get back to your discussion.

(FYI: what was odd, to me, was that another member just left quietly, and we continued talking, as he walked out. But they had stopped the discussion, just to talk to me?)

Everybody: Bye Jong!

Me: Bye! And Sherlock Holmes was a good movie, but a little bit complicated.

Then I left, thinking, "Wow, these are good people here. I'm very lucky!"

May God always bless them! :-)

Monday, January 4, 2010

My Birthday...

Today, I turned 30. I'm not exactly sure how I feel about that. I guess when we all were younger, we all thought we'd be rich, and famous by the time the big "3-0" rolled around. Or have accomplished great things, such as curing cancer. ;-) Or be on "top of the world".

But what if your life didn't plan out that way? I guess that's ok. I think God has a plan for all of us. And sometimes it takes a little while longer and much more determination to accomplish your dreams. Maybe, we have to be very patient and faithful, and then wait for God's timing in our lives.

And as I look ahead towards this new year and this new chapter in my life, I hope to continue the great work from last year. I guess, I'm very excited about the future, even though I may be a little older, and a little slower than before. But there comes a trade-off, as I've become much more mature, and much more wiser than in my 20's.

So while I can reminisce about my (past) life forever, I think I'll relax a little bit today and treat myself to a movie. I want to see another great detective, Sherlock Holmes, at work. It's gotten great reviews and I'll be happy just to see it.

A big, HAPPY BIRTHDAY to me! I hope and pray that this will be the beginning of great new things in my life! And I definitely believe in it too!@

Monday, November 23, 2009

On my way back...

I just sat in an (optional) workshop for the LSAT. It was 3 hours of fun! lol! Actually, no it wasn't. So, the workshop focused on the Reading Comprehension section of the exam. Call me crazy or delusional, but I needed to be there. I know I must study for this exam for the next 6-7 months in order to do well. (FYI: Most students study for 3 months max, for this exam.) So, why do I do this? Cause if I ever want to make it back, then I know I have to put ALL I've got into it, just to have a chance - if this is indeed my one last great chance - to do well.

Its been 6 years since I graduated college. I've lost a step or two of brain power. But what I've got left + maturity + wisdom = a great LSAT score (hopefully). And that's all I can count on or wish for. With all the work in front of me + Dream Act Activism + my parents store + landlord + etc, it feels overwhelming. (And it really is.) But, I can't tell you how much it would mean to me to be able to do ALL this things in the next year or so. It really is indescribable. If I could only study and succeed at everything, then I wouldn't worry. However, you're never guaranteed anything, even with the best game plan. And all these things will keep me worried late at night, as it should, for the next year. So I guess that's life. You just never know how things will turn out, even with your greatest efforts. I think you have to do the best you can, when you can. And I think that those who are determined to succeed are the ones that "we" look up to. I just hope to be that guy, one of those days. I would even say its a goal of mine to do "remarkable" stuff. To be a great person, you have to great things, I would say.

I've got much studying to do. There's something I've mentioned before called the LSAT that's just another 4 hour exam. Likewise, there goes my "freedom". Oh LSAC, (the Law School Admission Council, the ones who make potential law students lives miserable), you also know how to "control" our lives as well. And the fact that we pay you, makes it more sad. (I actually laughed at all this, but then, didn't understand why this was funny. Oh well.)

(Back to room, studying...)

Friday, October 9, 2009

The indomitable human spirit!

I just read this inspiring article about how an African teenager with no education, no money and no supporters built an electric windmill for his home and village. And through his invention, he's finally going to get his education! Wow! It makes you really think that if you believe in yourself, you can do anything. That's right, believe in your abilities, no matter what the doubters say. Its that indomitable human spirit that says, "You can!"

How a Malawian teenager harnessed the power of the wind