Speaking As A Youth

April 5, 2013 Staff Corner Voices from our Youth 0
By Helen Dao

While reading the story called “I Love You, Dad (an unsent letter) from a book titled YELL- Oh Girls (edited by Vickie Nam), parts of it really hit hard for me. It was wrong how she felt, having to hide everything she did from her parent. I completely understand her situation because I was also in the same boat she was.

Being the perfect child seems so easy but it’s actually really tough. Back then, I would tend to keep my feelings and emotions away from my parents so they wouldn’t judge me. I could relate to Grace a lot because my parents were also really strict. I hated them most of the times. Sometime I felt I was trapped inside a house like being in jail, and I shouldn’t have felt that way.

My parents always encouraged me to get straight A’s or good grades. They expected me to do this because I’m their oldest child. They didn’t want me to go down the wrong path that they took when they were younger. Back then, my parents didn’t have funds for food, a cellphone, a car and etc. They would have to work very hard for it. My parents always tell me I’m so lucky I was born in the United States.

Every time I would ask if I can do something, my parents would always say things such as you used to listen, you were a good girl and very smart, what happened? Those words haunted me. I knew that I was still the same girl I was from eighteen years ago. My parents always think that if they let me go and do whatever I want it can cause my younger siblings to think they can go do whatever they want.

I love my parents though. I know that it was a hard time for them growing up especially since they were immigrants coming to the United States. Going to school here with no English, having no transportation, and no fun. I came to the conclusion that if maybe if I would just sit down and listen to them now, I wouldn’t have to in the long run. I realize that they just want the best for me and I respect that. I respect them for bringing me into this world. If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be here. I really think that Grace was so focused on seeing what her parents didn’t let her do, similar to my situation, that it blinded both of us from seeing what our parents did for us and how they loved us and wanted us to do well.

Grace is just like me, although her father’s approach was a bit tougher than mine, you can clearly see that he only wanted the best for her. If he really didn’t love her, he wouldn’t care what she did, or who she turned out to be as an adult. I believe that there was proof of his love, and in the end I think Grace and I finally realized that without our parents we would be nothing and we wouldn’t have anything. I just think we need to look at the bigger picture and do what we think it is best for ourselves. I know a lot of youth out there that are struggling with the same issues Grace and I were struggling with and this is why I wanted to share this article with you all.

Monsoon and Nisaa are collaborating in the planning and implementation of the API & African Youth Council. The council is a bi-weekly meeting for Asian Pacific Islander & African youth to discuss different issues that are affecting their lives in Iowa. Monsoon will co-facilitate the discussions. The meetings are scheduled bi-weekly; will begin in July 2013 and will be held at the Bayanihan API and African Community Resource Center. We are still in the process of recruiting youth if anyone is interested. We would love for the youth to get engaged and involved in our events and activities such as open mics, workshops, and youth gatherings. We want youth involved because they are a big part of our movement. We believe that our generation can change the world.

My name is Helen & I’m the Youth Coordinator, I would like for any youth who is interested or wants to participate with us to contact me at or call our office at (515) 288-0881.


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