Learning and Losing Halmoni

Raine Higa

Born in Korea, 

hopeless in a busy life.

A crowded train on the path to rebirth.

Grandfather an outsider,

Halmoni a local.

Different in almost every way,

never stopped fate.

She swam in the language,

he struggled to stay afloat.

Fate guided him,

hard work completed him.

. . .

A new life, a new country.

Halmoni now an outsider

enveloped in a facade of “culture.”

Flashing lights, palm trees, hula skirts

no room for Hangul

For the children, Omoni’s tongue was lost,

never useful in this country.

. . .

Remnants of the language break away with Halmoni’s mind. 

Attempting to string the pieces together,


I am hopeless in a busy life.

Raine Higa is 18 years old and is a first-year at Wellesley College. She is a mixed Asian-American from Hawaii who now lives in Massachusetts. Interested in cultural psychology and intersectionality, Raine can speak Japanese and is currently learning Korean and Chinese. She won the Holomua award for excellence in English in her senior year of high school. “Learning and Losing Halmoni” is her first publication.

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