Leanne Wei


Sweet peas remind me of summer time in Sicily when I first arrived in Italy in the late summer of 2009.  It was also the first time I had ever travelled so far away from home.

I don't remember many family trips growing up in South Africa.  Sometimes when my friends invited me on summer trips, it'd often upset me to wonder why my parents would never take time off from work to do the same.  As far as typical immigrant parents go, they viewed taking holidays as being "lazy" and never failed to remind us how much money we were "wasting" every time we tried to take a sick day from school.

I never came from a rich family, but we always had enough.  Even though it was all I wanted in high school, applying to college in New York felt like such an incredibly selfish thing to do.  Although my parents knew that it would cost more than five times as much to study abroad, my dad told me that as long as I try my best and get in, he would find a way.

My brothers and I never really got expensive gifts or family trips growing up, but one thing I realized was that when it comes to supporting our education, there is no limit on what my parents would give.  They are the reason why I got to smell the sweet peas in Italy.  They are also the reason I am in New York today.  I just hope that one day I can do for them half of all they have done for me.

To everyone who wrote such kind words after reading my feature on Humans of New York, all I can say is thank you with all my heart.

Thank your parents. Work hard for them.  Tell them you love them every single day.  Our parents sacrifice so much more for us than we realize.  Don't ever forget that.