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Youth voices: a letter to my younger self

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Eh Kaw Thaw is robed by her mother at the IRC Dallas Robing Ceremony

Eh Kaw Thaw is robed by her mother at the IRC Dallas Robing Ceremony

Photo: Andrew Holzschuh

Dear Eh Kaw Thaw,

            Hi, I am the future you that you always wonder about. I know you are excited about this k-drama scenario coming to life, but please try to keep this a secret. I hope this letter finds you in the time of loneliness you are feeling adapting to your new home. I understand, having to assimilate to the new culture and language may seem as challenging as living in the refugee camp, but believe me, you’ve got this. You’ve only lived 9 years, there are so many more to come. Never lose hope.

Eh Kaw and her brother in Thailand
Eh Kaw and her brother in Thailand Photo: Personal Photo

            I’m writing to tell you how far you’ve come and will go. I wanted to tell you a secret, but I know you enjoy guessing games full of suspense and thrill, so I’ll share it towards the end. I’ll tell you this, you are very thoughtful and caring, especially towards your family and friends. It’s so heartbreaking to lose a loved one; I am amazed you got through it without causing trouble for anyone. I know there will be many times where you feel like giving up, but you won’t. I’m so proud of you for knowing where to look for inspiration and for persevering. 

            Eh Kaw, please continue to never give up. I know you want your brothers to see you as a good role model, and I know you want your parents to retire and rest. This has been a very long journey for them. Be patient and continue working hard, one day your dreams will come true. I want you to never forget your experiences and to always be grateful for those around you. Sometimes friends do come and go, but don’t be hurt over the ones that have left, be thankful for the ones that remain by your side. For the future, please write more in your diary because I am older and sometimes have a hard time recalling all our memories and emotions. I know you love writing, and you will have to write a lot your senior year of high school, so it’ll be good practice for you. 

Eh Kaw at her graduation from Emmett J Conrad High School
Eh Kaw at her graduation from Emmett J Conrad High School Photo: Personal Photo

            Another thing I want to tell you is to not be afraid. I know you can be super sensitive, overthink, and not do things you think could affect your relationship with others. But believe me, at the end of the day, you will regret not saying what you wanted to say. Just live for the moment and don’t worry so much about the future. I’d rather you regret revealing your thoughts than regret the possibilities. I don’t like it when you agonize over whether you made the right decision or not. If it’s happened, it’s in the past. You will come to realize that time is short and doesn’t wait for anyone -  so be courageous! Maybe it’s cliché to say, “you only live once,” but hey, it’s true! You’ve been blessed to have met wonderful people who truly care for you. Always be thankful and humble in whichever point of life you are in. 

Eh Kaw and her soccer team from Emmett J Conrad High School
Eh Kaw and her soccer team from Emmett J Conrad High School Photo: Personal Photo

            Remember that not everything can happen overnight, so be patient. You are more capable than you think. Don’t back out on an art project because I know you can finish it. It takes time to create a habit, as well as break one. I know it feels hard to say no, especially to the people you are close to, but don’t overwhelm yourself. You need time for yourself too. Remember to love yourself as much as you love everyone else. Finally, the secret: I do love you. Even though sometimes I get frustrated because of your introverted personality and wish you could be more expressive, I still love you. Know that you are someone important in this world. You are so loved by your teachers, friends, and even me. 

            Love, Eh Kaw Thaw

 

Eh Kaw Thaw and her family were resettled from Thailand by the IRC in 2009. She is a 2018 graduate from Emmett J Conrad High School. In her free time, Eh Kaw can be found drawing, volunteering at Dallas Life, or watching movies and playing soccer with friends. Eh Kaw begins her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work at Texas A&M University at Commerce this fall with over $50,000 in scholarships.