Jinny’s body has been trained to briskly rise at dawn almost instinctively. Ever since her family left Busan, a port city in South Korea, when she was 7, Jinny found a home in Dallas, but more so at her parents’ doughnut shop.
Unlike Jinny, Gab Kyu and Miran Han Cho sell donuts, not doughnuts. When the couple immigrated to Dallas in 2000, they arrived in search of recovery from their failed business in South Korea and a better education for their eldest daughter Jinny, who was then halfway through first grade.
Before school, Jinny would tug at her mother’s dress, pleading Umma, can I go to school when I become good at English? The young girl felt out of place with her thick Korean accent. Both parents barely spoke English, and every time their daughter asked to practice the rudimentary phrases she had learned in class that day, their hearts would wince.
“When we would go to Walmart, Eunjin would jump up and down, because she could speak English with the cashier,” Mrs. Cho says, using Jinny’s Korean name. “If I was looking for Sprite, she’d always say, ‘Wait, let me ask where the Sprite is!’ and race to the counter. Ever since she was young, she was brave like that.”