The American Dream

Feb 23, 2008

Nancy Lin - Springfield High School
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

Americans have become so self-absorbed with their own troubles that they have forgotten the ideals that have helped shape this nation. One ideal that has been taken for granted by today's generation is the American Dream. It is a dream commonly held by those who just arrived in America and those who long for an opportunity to come to America. To go from rags to riches is the universal definition of the American Dream. However, the true definition of the American Dream will have to depend on its pursuer. I believe in the American dream because it defines my life.

Twenty some years ago, my parents came to America in hopes of finding a good job so that they could send money back home to their relatives. Establishing a new life in America was hard for my parents. They started out working in the kitchens of Chinese restaurants in New York and lived in a very small dingy apartment. Working in the restaurants helped my parents learn English. However, they still have some problems with English grammar and vocabulary to this day. When I was born, my parents knew that they did not have enough income to take care of me. They sent me to China to be taken care of by my grandparents so that they could finally earn enough money to provide a stable environment to raise me in. Five years later, I arrived back in America. By then, my parents had started their own restaurant and were living in a small apartment in Springfield, Illinois. I remember having to share a room with my parents and my little brother because the apartment was so small. As the years went by, we had enough money to move to bigger houses. Now, my parents own two houses and earn enough income to make us higher middle-class in social status.

I believe in the American Dream.

Unlike most teens, I also had to grow up quickly. While my parents were working, my main responsibility was to take care of my younger brother, who was a handful. I had to learn advanced vocabulary so I could translate for my parents when they needed help with paperwork or in meetings. When there was a problem at school concerning my brother, I had to act as the disciplinarian because my parents would not understand what he did wrong. I am like a third parent to my brother. I have too cook for him if he gets hungry and help him with homework. However, I sometimes wish I had more time to myself to do the things I want to do. Most teens in today's society are spoiled. They do not know the meaning of work to get what they want. Their parents will give them almost anything to satisfy their child's materialistic needs. However, they deny their child the discipline and respect that can be learned through working. I remember working at my parent's restaurant starting at the age of eight. I felt that it was my obligation to help out my parents while they were working tediously to support the family. I would start bringing food to the customers, cleaning the tables, and washing dishes. Eventually, I learned how to take people's orders and use the cash register. My parents were glad that I was willing to help them out and let them rest a little. By the time I was 13 years of age, I knew how to do almost everything in the restaurant, but my parents would not let me do certain jobs. In time, my parents decided to have me work less so that I could concentrate on doing well in school. However, they would call me tow work when they were short of workers or if they had an emergency meeting.I have learned  a lot in my years working alongside my parents. I have learned to respect them for working so hard to provide for us, as well as not to take money for granted. Working with my parents has also aught me discipline, organizational skills, and other skills that are useful on a day-to-day basis.

The moral to that story is that if one has enough persistence pursuing the American Dream, it can be achieved. Having to go from almost having nothing to being well-off, it has given me a special insight on life and how I should accomplish my dreams. My parents have worked hard to achieve their American Dream and working alongside them inspired me to pursue my own dreams. They have also inspired some of my relatives to pursue their own American Dream. One doesn't have to be an immigrant to pursue the American Dream. Those who have suffered great tragedies and or financial destitution can do so as well. Because America is the land of many opportunities, it make the pursuit of the American Dream more accessible to the common people, and that is why I believe in the American Dream.