Every week, I look forward to Sundays with my mom. My mom is a beautiful woman. She never wears designer clothes but she wears leggings, T-shirts, and sweatpants. She smells like the Thank You Next perfume by Arianna Grande. She always cares about people and loves them equally but is also a hard-working woman working two jobs: one job at a local restaurant in Winooski, Vermont, and her other job is early in the morning at a factory making soap. She does all this so my two siblings and I can have food on the table and clothes on our bodies. Though she works so hard, you would expect her to be so tired and not want to cook for everyone, but the most important thing to her is cooking for us. Her food brings people together, and makes people smile, laugh, and giggle.

My mother's food usually brings our family together on Sundays as a gathering of people on my mom's side of the family and my father's side of the family. Sundays she doesn’t work and those days have become family days. We're all packed in together in my 4 bedroom apartment. My cousins also come over but we’re usually in my room playing video games, like Fifa, Madden, and 2k. We're usually the last to eat because the adults eat first. It's usually located at an apartment in Winooski and there are no special occasions for it. We just like to bond together as a family and people usually bring deserts too. I like those days because they bring me happiness and joy that we’re all together most Sundays.

The food she usually makes is Thai and Karen food. Some of the foods are tea leaf salad, Fried Rice, Stir-Fried Noodles, Samosas, Pad Thai, Thai Papaya Salad, Boat Noodles, Pho, and Moo Ping. These are the foods she makes that brings people together and brings happiness. My aunt and grandmother usually are the ones who help her cook the food, and my mom always smiles when she cooks for us and is very happy that we enjoy her food. I hear the pop pop pop pop in her pan as she cooks the Moo Ping. I smell the spices mixing all together and creating a beautiful curry smell that fills our small house. 

My family is Karen but I have a huge background. I grew up in a refugee camp in Thailand. I don’t remember a lot about Thailand. The only things I can remember about it is how beautiful the waterfalls were. We immigrated to the U.S., to Texas. Texas is where I grew up for most of my life, stayed with my aunt and grandparents and went to preschool there but after preschool, I moved to Vermont. It was weird because there were a lot of white people. In Texas, we were with many other Karen people. But I got used to it and made a lot of new friends. I also started kindergarten at a new school called JFK Elementary School. It was weird being around new people but fun at the same time because I got to learn English and meet tons of new people. It was a new experience for me but a fun one.

When we got to Vermont, we all felt out of place but the one thing that made us feel at home and brought us together was always my mom’s food. The food helped me transition from Texas to Vermont because I wasn’t used to eating American school lunches so I would look forward to eating my mom’s food everyday after school. In Vermont, I witnessed my first snowfall and was really confused. I also had a fun time in the snow but it was very cold so my mom would make us hot and warm curries and soups that would warm our stomachs and body up and would make me feel good in bed. Growing up, the food was always here, connecting me back to my Karen culture. I think it was also a constant for my mom. She lived in Burma and was kicked out of her home to the refugee camp in Thailand. The food was always a source of comfort for her too. 

So now, every week, I look forward to Sunday dinners and hearing “Star, get you and your cousins out the room and come get some food.” 

“Okay,” I respond. “We’re coming out.” We would never miss it.



15 years old

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