By Jami Rivers, NSU Student
My mother’s name is quite unique, which is why it is almost always mispronounced anytime she meets someone new. Her name is Ladda (pronounced lah-dah). Although that may seem odd it surely is not as difficult to pronounce as her maiden name, which is Sookjit. Just like her name, my mother’s story is one of a kind, and beautiful as well.
My mother was born and raised in a small village located in Thailand, called Ban Moungleeg, which is in a city named Surin. She grew up in a tiny two-bedroom house with six of her family members. There was no bathroom or kitchen inside of the house. If she ever needed to use the restroom she would have to walk about thirty feet outside, which is where the shabby little toilet was. There was no running water in the house, so taking a shower was not as simple as stepping into a stall and letting a stream of clean water pour down onto her. She had to walk for 20 minutes from her house to a pond and fill a large bowl with water, then carry it back and pour it into a rain barrel, which took about 10 trips to fill completely. Gathering water was no simple task, but it had to be done, and my mother did it with a smile on her face.
Just like many other families in her village, my mother’s family owned a rice farm, which they used as their main source of income. They sold rice to other families and saved some to eat with eggs laid by their chickens, or fish that they caught themselves. They walked to the rice fields every day. During the harvest they never left the fields, and they spent several restless nights there in a small wooden shed to make sure no one stole their rice. The profit from rice sales alone was never enough, so my mom did everything she could to help. At only 11-years-old, she walked along the busy streets of Thailand and sold noodles and curry. Little did she know that in 20 years she would be living the start of her very own American dream.
When my mother first moved to America she could hardly speak any English. It was virtually impossible for her to have a conversation. Although she had learned a bit of English in school, the ginormous language barrier that stood between her and everyone around her remained. She attended language school made for adults from foreign countries, but she learned mostly from watching TV and talking to friends that do not speak Thai.
One of the biggest differences between living in Thailand living in America is the abundance of opportunity. My mother states, “In Thailand there is so much difference between the rich and the poor. I feel like in America I can live life like everyone else.”
My mother has had to overcome a lot of obstacles and struggle to be where she is today. Even with all she has been through, she is nothing short of grateful for all her life experiences. “I am so lucky to have this opportunity,” she says. “I am like Cinderella.”
Source: Rivers, Ladda. Personal interview. 8 October 2017.