“I think a family is a family when they help each other when things are hard, and celebrate with each other when they’re happy. Just a family walking together through life, you know?” – Hyeyoung Im, mother


This is the story of a family. A family that crossed an ocean, overcame various hurdles, and transcended a myriad of cultural boundaries to become the family that we are today. It’s a story of two young Korean professionals making a series of momentous decisions at the turn of the century. It’s a story of adapting to changing circumstances, compromising, and growing from them. Ultimately, it’s a story of duty, sacrifice, and most of all, love.


The American humorist Erma Bombeck once described the family as the following: “The family. We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another’s desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together.” Upon hearing my family members offer their perspectives about our little band—mother, father, and twin sister—I have tried to piece together that puzzle, to figure out the common thread that binds us all together. And although the common thread is indeed a singular strand, the ways in which it ties us—tighter in some spots, much looser in others—varies depending on the character, the family member. In examining my family’s origins, my parents’ upbringings and the values they brought into their union, and the situational circumstances that prompted them to make certain decisions, I find that my family’s collective identity has been thoroughly shaped and molded by these elements. Ultimately, this historical perspective has also defined the tie that binds my family together—our shared obligation.


Let’s start with: Where it Began