Photo courtesy of Sonia Vasquez
LA River School

Immigration & rolling with the punches

Thailand, 2010—Living in his home country since the day he was born, Peeranat Suratphirom is a young boy who lives his day by what comes trough. After a long day of playing with his older brother Purinat in the hot sun, Peeranat receives a call from his grandmother Pai, who then informs him that his mother wishes to speak to him.

“I got on the phone and just said ‘hi’ like I usually do when she calls. We chatted as usual and then she popped the question: Did I want to go live with her in the U.S.,” Suratphirom recalled.

Just like any child who wishes to be with their parents, Peeranat responded, “Sure.” Knowing that deep down he wished to stay with the woman who was there for him — Grandma Pai.

Image courtesy of Peeranat: Purinat age 7 (left), Peeranat age 6 (right)

Los Angeles, 2010—At the time Peter (a name he has casually come to use and respond to) was 10-years-old, he didn’t really understand nor did take a large liking to the idea of being with his mother. Suratphirom arrived in Los Angeles, California on a plane where he just spent the entire ride fearing for his life.

“Traveling, I felt like I was going to die. The plane…I’ve seen movies and you know planes don’t…they don’t land well in movies so…I was obviously scared. During the ride, you know, I just chilled next to my brother,” Suratphirom said.

Further on in his time learning the language and adapting to the rhythm of L.A., Peter realized that his country Thailand, its culture and spice, were indulged in bowls of soups and dishes, such as the mouthwatering Tom Kha Gai (Thai Chicken Coconut Soup), and crunchy Pad Thai (Thai style Fried Noodles) being savored in restaurants that reminisce the memories of sunny Trat.

Presently, Suratphirom is currently a senior that is not only attending school but working at a local restaurant.

“I like the fact that school is shorter, ’cause back in Thailand school came out a lot later. Also, back in Thailand there was a dress code, from your head, to your nails, to your feet,” Suratphirom said.

The longer school day is regiment that Suratphirom has no lingering sentiments to nor wants to ever have again.

Image courtesy of Peeranat age 8: Located at the left back

With the focus of taking graphic design as his major, using his free time to draw or replicate images, and playing PS4 with his older brother, Suratphirom wishes to go back and see his grandmother Pai as well as the rest of the family that resides in the village of Trat.

“I definitely want to go back and visit, so I’m going save money to visit, money for myself, and hopefully be able to go visit sometime near in the future,” Suratphirom said.

Even though it was hard to adapt, through the language and living with his mother, Suratphirom would not change a thing nor take back the idea of coming to the U.S.

“If I even change one little thing about coming to the U.S. and did something differently, I would have never met you, so no, I wouldn’t change a thing,” he said.

With high school ending, college approaching, Peeranat continues to roll with punches in his life in Los Angeles, with friends and his family on his mind.