My Dream of Helping Others - True Kindness



My Dream of Helping Others

        Throughout the journey of life, each and every one of us has a dream of becoming something. As for me, a dream that I have in this lifetime is to be able to help others. Ever since I was a kid the only time that I felt true happiness in my heart was when I could do something beneficial for others. I sincerely believe that my acts of kindness will have a positive impact in someone’s life. Being born into a poor family made me understand the hardship of others. 

Back when I was living in Vietnam, my family had experienced many hardships and sufferings. My parents were farmers and earned low income, but they had to work hard in order to put food on the table. My oldest sister had to quit her education in seventh grade due to financial problems. My parents could only afford to pay my school tuition as well as my other two older sisters. While on my way to school every morning, I kept asking myself, “what do I want to be when I grow up? Why does my dad want me to study hard and become a successful person? Why doesn't he want me to work as a farmer like Mom and Dad?” At that time, I was still young and I did not fully understand what he was trying to tell me. I sometimes thought about giving up on school since the educational system in Vietnam was challenging and had no freedom of speech nor expression. I was terrified of my teachers as I entered the class, because they were harsh on students. When my classmates and I could not answer the questions correctly, we would get punished. The punishments could be standing outside the classroom under the sun or rain, or hitting us with a stick. What was even worse was when my teachers were in the bad mood they would start hitting us without feeling ashamed or pity. On my way back home from school everyday, I was walking with tears and pain. I cried every night and prayed for freedom. 

Until then, my prayers had been heard. In 2008, the year that I felt like my life started to change. My grandpa, who was one of the top rank soldiers who had fought in the Vietnam war. In 1994, the United States Military sponsored my grandpa and his family to live in America. Because of my grandpa’s effort and perseverance, that’s why my family and I had the opportunity to live in a freedom country. On the day I left my homeland, I could still remember the joy on my family’s faces and their excitement for coming to America. But at the same time, it was one of the toughest decisions my family had to make. We had to give up everything, including our home, family, and friends in search of freedom. Our hearts were shattered in tears to say goodbye to our loved ones. 

Once I arrived in the United States, I thought I was in heaven. Everything was beautiful to me. I loved the atmosphere, food, and people. I even thought my life would no longer experience hardship, especially dealing with school. Unfortunately, nothing went well as we planned. On my first day in American school, as a sixth grader, I felt lost and confused. I did not know how to read, write, nor speak English at all.  Whenever my teacher started talking, I would start looking at my classmates' reactions. Whatever they did, I would follow them. Embarrassingly, there was one time I did not know what was going on. While my teacher was giving a speech, and a guy who sat next to me was just getting his eraser to remove a written mistake, I also did exactly the same. I first thought my teacher told us to take out the eraser. This is what happened when you did not speak the language.

        As days went by, things were getting more challenging with school. I tried my hardest to learn English with my ESL teacher. English was my third language and I got mixed up with other two languages quite often. Although it was fun to learn a new language with a kind and caring teacher, at the same time, I felt lonely. Everyday, I sat alone in school learning English while other students enjoyed their time with friends. I started to miss my friends in Vietnam, where we went to school and played together. At one point, I thought to myself “what’s the point of trying?” I would not have the opportunity to achieve my dad’s dream anyway. It was not beneficial for me to study hard since I did not plan on attending college. Until one day, I saw the hardship my family was experiencing in a new country. It changed my mind and perspectives on how I see my future. 

I began to study harder and promised myself not to give up. I started to take my dad’s words into consideration, thinking, “why did my dad’s only dream was to see me become a successful person?”. He used to tell me that in order to help others, we first need to help ourselves. His words made me realize that without perseverance, the dream that I have since I was a kid may not be achievable. Each and every year, I made him proud by receiving awards in school. Although my English wasn’t perfect, my effort was well worth it. Once my English had improved, I met a new friend in sophomore year. She was a Cambodian who was a non-English speaker. I knew how difficult it was when we came to a foreign country without knowing the language, so I volunteered to help her with the translation. This is something I always wanted to do was to be able to help someone. 

As I started making progress in life, I often participated in Community Service with my best friend. One of the Community Services that we volunteered for was YWCA USA which means Eliminating Racism, Empower Women where it stands up for social justice, strengthening communities, and helping families. Our mission was to take care of the children, serve the meal, and teach. Waking up in the morning was not a pleasant thing and I had many duties to be responsible for. Yet, it was exhausting, but it was worth it. This is  something I enjoyed doing and happy to be a part of the team. 

Life in America has been better for us each year due to our hard work and dedication. As I promised myself, I would never forget my own roots and where I came from. I will continue to help those in need. As long as I have the ability to help someone, I would be happy to do it. It could be donating money, food, clothing, and household essentials. Due to hardships and sufferings, I know how it felt like to have nothing. The intention that I have for attending college is to gain knowledge in order to apply that to my life’s goal. We all have different dreams and desires in our lives. Some may dream of being successful in education and career. Some may have a desire to be successful in life. My dream is to continue helping others. But remember, we cannot help someone, if we cannot help ourselves. The act of kindness does not always require money as long as we do it from our hearts, our sincere actions will be beneficial to others, too. Keep spreading love and kindness everywhere we go. That’s the only way the world can live in peace. 

Written by: Diem Lam