The World as One   
The United,   
The Shared,   
and for the Better...
By Cindy S. Cho   
CommApp ID: 15975283
Bellevue Senior High School, Bellevue, WA
My Background
My father emigrated from Korea to America with his family in 1984 while he was in middle school to pursue a more balanced education. As a teenager and the youngest of his 4 siblings, he had to work odd jobs with his family in order to stay grounded in Anchorage, Alaska. He ultimately had a variety of universities to select from but had to attend a local community college in order to be a caretaker after his mother. My father’s accounts of his teenage years have instilled a distinctive resolve and grit in me because he helped me understand the difficulties of immigrants. He eventually became an engineer and met my mother when he visited South Korea later on. My mother immigrated to the U.S. in 1995 to be with my father and proceeded to work for a Korean newspaper. In Korea, she previously worked in advertising and authored several books. My mother's work in writing and journalism veered me towards applying to my high school's newspaper, where leading the news section continued my interest in foreign affairs. Starting from a young age, my parents made sure to incorporate the Korean language in my daily activities so that I never would lose my native tongue. When I was in middle school, my mother encouraged me to compete in Korean speech and writing competitions to further improve my knowledge in both the language and the culture, and I still continue to do those. Today, I watch Korean news with my parents and we only speak Korean at the dinner table. Knowing both cultures has also exposed me to issues of both nations.
Great Uncle
In middle school, the most notable memories I have are of visiting South Korea to meet my great uncle. As a worker in the Korean Intelligence Service, my great uncle would talk to me nonstop about Korean history and would extensively explain the north and south divide. Every day he would take me to different Korean monuments and we would spend hours conversing about the events or issues in Korea and how they relate to the rest of the world. Through learning about Korean politics and history at a young age, I was inspired to learn more about what was going on in my own country. Now, my great uncle visits me in the U.S. every year and I thank him back by teaching him more about the politics and history occurring in my own country. I soon developed interests in high school around immigration, civil rights, and international politics. Through him, I learned the values of informing others about history and realized that I should effectively use my often undervalued freedom of speech to do public speaking regarding these issues. I remember being elected class president in the eighth grade and naively going around to other social studies classes to speak about school issues. I knew that in high school, I wanted to pursue more speaking and writing activities about politics.
Another key figure that spurred my interests in civil rights was my elderly neighbor. Through living in the same house for most of my life, I was able to have a special bond with my neighbor Patrick (Pat) Yoshida, a Japanese-American immigrant from Hawaii. A few years ago we started having lunch once every week and one day during my freshman year, we got into a conversation about his childhood around the time of the Pearl Harbor attack. His young years consisted of tarping his house windows with jet black curtains in order to stay safe during the turmoil. In his adult years, he made note of visiting the south on business trips frequently and always having to sit on the "colored" section at restaurants, even if his pigment was paler than most Caucasians. I was shocked by hearing this because I was taught in school that race was very binary during the civil rights movement - I had never learned about the experiences of Asian-Americans in times of segregation. Because I was born and raised in the U.S., I was never aware of the struggles of immigrants - even those of my parents. Pat taught me about his own journey and urged my interests in both civil rights and immigration issues. Without Pat, I wouldn’t have started my internship at American Immigration Forums or went to the civil rights pilgrimage in the south. To me, Pat was a walking history book - I was able to listen to first-hand accounts of the past.
  My family and I at a celebration for the Veterans of Foreign Wars
  My family and I at my sister's graduation ceremony
  My mother and I at a local radio station
  where was able to speak about politics!