My Mom’s Immigrant Story Is Not Mine, but I Learn from It

by Mela Seyoum
Also Featured on KCBS

My Mom’s Immigrant Story Is Not Mine, but I Learn from It

by Mela Seyoum
Also Featured on KCBS
04.21.19
04.21.19

I’m a first generation Eritrean immigrant. My parents survived a revolution in their youth. It’s often difficult to figure out how my life experience compares to theirs.

When my parents were teenagers, they fled a war in Eritrea. I was born in California, and have had a peaceful upbringing.

My mom often tells me stories about her childhood in relation to mine. When she was 16, she was crossing a desert to save her life. When I was 16, I was worried about my next midterms and when I could hang out with my friends.

It’s sometimes hard to ask my parents for what I want. More time with friends, more freedom. Because my desires feel inadequate compared to theirs when they were teens.

As each year passes, I learn more about my mom’s life. I realize that her experiences are unique and important, but so are mine, even though I didn’t go through the same struggles. That’s when I started looking at our stories side by side, rather than comparing them against each other.

By shifting my perspective, I’ve learned to honor my mom’s brave — almost unimaginable — journey. She gave me this life I have now.

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