This story appears from our Senior Voices Publication (2009.) These stories are part of the ongoing history of service to our AAPI elders through NAPCA’s SCSEP program.
Born 1953, Daejon, South Korea
Childcare Assistant, Denise Louie Education Center, Seattle
I would have stayed in Korea if my husband did not pass away. But after he passed away, my parents lived in Florida so that’s why I came.
To help my children, I worked. My son was a freshman in high school and my daughter was a freshman in college. I needed money to support them even though they got scholarships for their schools. My brother owned a cleaner – dry cleaner, so I worked and helped there – cashier, bagging, everything.
Living in America was okay, but the problem was when I started to work at the cleaner, I could not understand what the customer said and I could not respond as fast as I wanted to. But later I was accustomed to both hearing and speaking.
I like everything here. I like the freedom. If I lived in Korea, my children compare who lives in a bigger house and smaller house. Friends and even family members can be judgmental. But here, no interference at all. Free from all those kind of criticisms and comparisons like that.
I worked for hospice. Two years. I’m a caregiver who is a talking companion. And also I cooked according to their taste. I selected clothes matching their preference. If you do your job in a genuine manner, from the heart, they immediately notice it. I always thought that we all go in the end eventually – so I tell them not to be sad, but live joyfully every day, encourage them. That is good, I think.
Now at Denise Louie, I read books to the children, help them with crafts, make things, clean the place, arrange the table settings, take care of children when they play outside, keep an eye on them.
There are special needs children. I once had a student who didn’t move, who didn’t speak at all. He was less than four. But I helped him to walk, step by step. I noticed his eyes changed whenever he saw toy cars. So since I knew that was his favorite, I brought cars and let him draw and also let him touch those cars. I caught what his best interest was. That was the key. And after four weeks, he even waved a hand as he left.
I like this job so much so I want to do this type of childcare job and maybe volunteer later. I can do different work, but this childcare job is the most satisfying job for me.
These days, young people tend to go faster. I want to go step by step. Money can’t buy happiness. All material things cannot bring happiness. I know that, so I tell my children, even in searching for their jobs, “Do whatever you like. Do whatever you want to because that will bring you happiness.” That’s what I say.