Assignment 1. 2: Summary and Personal Response Jennifer English Composition 115 May 10, 2012 Assignment 1. 2: Summary and Personal Response In “Facing Poverty with a Rich Girl’s Habits,” (Kim, 2004) the author, Suki Kim, writes about the struggles she faced as an impoverished, South Korean, immigrant teen in the 1980’s. Suddenly Kim’s world is turned upside down and she must find a way to survive in a foreign land. She writes emotionally about trying to find a place to fit in with other teens like herself while learning a new language and culture.
The writer’s purpose is to tell the story of her difficult transition from rich to poor in a foreign country. She wrote her story in the form of a memoir to reach others like her, immigrants starting over in foreign countries, but also, to anyone who may have ever felt alone and lost in new surroundings. She used a reflective tone as she emotionally described the experiences she went through. Kim starts her story by telling readers about how her life changed in the blink of an eye.
Her wealthy family suddenly lost everything when her father lost his businesses and, to avoid prison time, left their beautiful estate in South Korea, fleeing to America with nothing. They settled in Queens, New York in the upstairs of a small house. Things were very different from that to which she was accustomed. She no longer had the luxuries from her rich life; riding the bus instead of being driven, washing her own clothes, and cleaning up her own messes, no governess to help with homework.
In school, she joined the English as a Second Language class, hoping to find comfort in a class filled with other kids that were also just learning to speak English. She quickly figured out that most of her classmates came from poverty and even though they were all on the same level now, they looked at her differently because she came from money. The wealthier families, like hers, had moved to less poor parts of New York. She recalls the “distance” she felt between herself and the newest immigrants, her E. S.
L classmates and the English–speaking Korean-American kids, sadness in trying to find a place to belong in a new country after losing everything that she once knew. It did not take her long to realize that this was her life now, no matter how sad, lonely or scary it was, and she had to survive it. Although I am not an immigrant and I have spoken English all my life, I can, in some ways relate to this essay and the way Kim may have felt. I have never been rich but my family has lost everything and we have had to move with nothing and start over.
I felt her sadness in having lost what she knew, the loneliness in trying to figure out where she fit in this large world, the confusion she felt in trying to learn a new language and culture. I have only moved across state lines but even that can seem like crossing an ocean when you are a teenager. Each local culture has its own characteristics, and being an “alien” anywhere can be immensely frightening, even without the change from wealth to poverty. References Kim, S. (2004, November 21). Facing Poverty with a Rich Girl’s Habits. Retrieved from www. nytimes. com: http://www. nytimes. com/2004/11/21/nyregion/thecity/21kim. html? _r=1
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