Today is the start of the Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, celebrating the achievements and contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) in the United States.
“Time there seemed to pass differently when you are shut off from the world, every day is exactly the same as the one before. This sameness has a way of wearing down your soul until you become nothing but a breathing, toiling, consuming thing that awakes to the sun and sleeps at the dawning of the dark. The emptiness runs deep, deeper with each slowing day, and you become increasing invisible and inconsequential. That’s how I felt at times, a tiny insect circling itself, only to continue, and continue.”
The sentences above begin the book Without You, There Is No Us, a moving and incalculably rare glimpse of life in the world’s most unknowable country, a memoir of Suki Kim on her time with the sons of North Korea’s elite.
By now, we all experienced that sentiment during the early days of lock-down due to global pandemic. To honor this special month, I want to celebrate Courage. This Asian American writer, an immigrant to America at her early age, grew up to become an authentic writer. Her fierce desire and insatiable hunger for an emotional home led her to penetrate the soul of her divided country of origin, bearing witness to generations of maimed lives, highlighting the enormity of what is at stake.
As I read her story, I asked myself “Have I developed enough courage so that I can stand up for myself and then stand up for somebody else?”
“Do I have enough courage to practice virtues such as dignity, respect, equity and compassion, to stand up for what I believe in, and to risk failing so I can be the change I want to see in the world?”
Suki’s story and her writing motivates me to not settle but to continue to work hard, continue to press on!