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Home » What If You Were An Immigrant? – Ben Huh (Transcript)

What If You Were An Immigrant? – Ben Huh (Transcript)

Here is the full transcript of Ben Huh’s talk titled “What If You Were An Immigrant?” at TEDxPortland conference.

Listen to the audio version here:


So, I’m not here to talk about something that’s funny. I’m here to talk about something that’s really, really close to my heart. In fact, it’s so close I cannot escape it. It’s because I came to this country as an immigrant.

The Immigrant Experience

It’s hard for some people to notice when somebody’s an immigrant. I do things related to Internet culture, which is very American. It is very Internet-y. You have to be in the zeitgeist. It is a class of work that people who are like me do not do. We run dry cleaners, grocery stores, mail salons, 7-Elevens. Maybe we get an H-1B visa and we work at Microsoft.

But we do not go out and make entertainment websites because for that to occur, we must have a connection that is much deeper than a career or profession. I must understand you and your background and where you grew up. But somehow, I ended up here.

And because I came here when I was 14, I was able to understand what it’s like to be an American yet still be an immigrant. If I came here if I was 10, maybe if I was 21, I may have missed that. I may have been set in my ways as an immigrant, or maybe I would have acted more like a second generation where I didn’t remember where I came from. But because I was 14, I remember all these things. I remember living in a one-bedroom apartment with my parents. There was a mattress on the living room floor.

The Struggles of Immigration

I was the only child, so my parents gave me the bedroom, and they slept out on the mattress on the living room floor. And I remember their horror and the shame on their face when I brought my friends home from school. I remember that moment when I walked into the door with the kids, and my parents were like, “You didn’t tell me that you were going to bring guests.” And that awkward moment when they were trying to figure out what to do with that mattress on the living room floor and we had no place for my friends to sit.

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