July 22, 2012
According to Suki Kim, the author of “Facing Poverty with a Rich Girl’s habits, learning how to survive physically, emotionally, and educationally in a world that was far removed from the style of life she was accustomed to was one of the biggest challenges of her life. Kim went from having a father who was considered a millionaire, living in a mansion complete with a governess to living in a small apartment in another person’s home within a short period of time. While reeling from the shock and devastation of losing all that was familiar to her, she also had to learn English, how to do everything for herself that was originally done for her, and get used to a new school and way of life. In her essay, she discusses the various challenges that rose up to face her almost daily.
As a young adolescent, Kim was ostracized due to her being from Korea, being made fun of and called names. Even while she was in her E.S.L. classes and having the ability to communicate with those who spoke Korean, she was an outsider. At one point in her essay, she describes the first English word she had learned as being “fresh off the boat” (Roen, Glau & Maid, 2011). Kim, not understanding English, didn’t realize that the joke was on her until much later when she had a better grasp of the language.
Kim was also amazed at the differences in Korean schools and those in America. In Korea, she describes school as being quiet and respectful, using examples of bowing to teachers and wearing slippers to avoid making marks on the flooring. In one particular example she talks of youngsters kissing in the classroom while the teacher calls out attendance, something that surely didn’t happen in Korea. A hard dose of reality soon came to Kim when she realized just how much of her life was going to have to change. Her mother, who was considered an elite citizen...