By Joseph Kim 
April 1, 2019
George W. Bush Presidential Center
Our history shows that welcoming others and respecting different opinions are two of the main engines that make this a free nation.
When I was 12, I was an orphan in North Korea and survived by begging on the streets. I was not alone. I met many homeless children who lost their parents to famine—like I did—or were abandoned. In those days, I dreamed of eating three meals a day. There was no time or energy to dream of anything else. All of us were just trying to survive.

I am one of the lucky ones, and my dreams changed.

In 2007, I came to the United States, where eating three meals became my daily routine. I was told by many that I no longer needed to dream of food and had the freedom to want for more. I suddenly had the opportunity to attain the American Dream.

I have greatly benefited from the generosity of this nation. And in March, I was once again reminded of this country’s kindness at a naturalization ceremony hosted at the George W. Bush Institute.

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