Kathy Phi (pictured left)
After the fall of Saigon in 1975, my parents fled their homes in Vietnam in the middle of the night and escaped by boat to seek asylum in neighboring countries. They spent weeks at sea, faced storms and starvation, and lost many loved ones along the way. Once rescued, they spent months in refugee camps before resettling in southern California. They started their lives over, with the hopes of better opportunities and a brighter future for their children. My parents sacrificed so much to give me access to opportunities they didn’t have. Because of this, I was given the opportunity to thrive and go after my dreams.
I am blessed with a life filled with travel, a fulfilling career, and the support and love of my family. I work as an occupational therapist in a hospital, helping adults regain their function and independence, and I’m happily married to the love of my life.
My story, however, is one that’s deeply rooted in the sacrifices made by my immigrant parents. They speak of their sacrifices so casually, as if they’re ordinary tales, but the magnitude of their devotion is anything but ordinary. They left behind everything they knew — their homeland, their language, their loved ones — just to give us a chance at a better life. Their journey in the U.S. has been one of resilience, working tirelessly. Their sacrifices were like seeds that blossomed into opportunities for me.
It’s the sacrifices, made over and over, that stand as undeniable proof of their boundless love for my sister and me. We are their world, and their sacrifices have laid the foundation for our dreams to be a possibility in the United States, our home country as first-generation Asian-Americans.
As I reflect on the tapestry of my life, I can’t help but recognize that my deepest wellspring of joy springs forth from the relationships that grace my journey. When I think of people, it’s the faces of my friends and family that light up my world, infusing every moment with warmth and happiness. Their laughter, their support, their unwavering presence — these are the pillars of joy that hold me up and are a foundational piece to thriving. To me, thriving is like a garden in full bloom, a journey of growth and flourishing.
Jonathan Yim (pictured right)
My dad took a leap of faith when he left Korea for New York City in 1984 with just a student visa and $200 in his pocket. Unable to afford school and live in NYC, he made his way to Los Angeles, where my mom would also find her way from Korea to Garden Grove, California, in 1986. My parents’ paths crossed, bringing them together, and within a few months, they fell in love and got married. Together, they embarked on their life journey, trying various businesses to support our young family.
My immigrant parents faced their fair share of challenges, from running a shoe store to unexpected moves in their continual search to give us the best chance at life. Familiar with packing their bags in search for a better life, they first loaded up our van and moved us south to Calexico, California. Upon arrival, they realized that they had been misinformed. However, they persevered and found another opportunity. After hearing business was booming in Arizona, they took another gamble and made another long-distance move. Their dedication paid off as they eventually found success in their business.
Like many immigrant families, my parents faced adversity head-on. They worked tirelessly, often seven days a week, and made countless sacrifices to safeguard our well-being and education. I’m grateful to my parents for their sacrifices and their story reminds me that through perseverance, anything is possible.
Today, I am an occupational therapist and work with the elderly population. I met my wife, Kathy, in college and we both enjoy our careers as therapists helping people. We have built a life filled with purpose and gratitude. “Purpose” reminds me of why I do the things that I do.
I’m happily married to my hero, Kathy, and I’m grateful that together we get to celebrate the resilience and determination of our immigrant families. My parents’ resilience in a country that has not always embraced them, continues to inspire me, and their story reinforces my belief that with determination and support, we can all thrive.