Former White House aide: 'What a beautiful, incredible nation of immigrants we are'

Former White House aide Gary Lee recounts an unforgettable experience working with President Obama, perfectly reflecting the immigrant experience. (Photo: Pete Souza)

After a tumultuous week for President Trump and his derogatory marks on immigration issues, a tale has emerged of how former President Obama treated his diverse staffers, demonstrating his stance on the same issues.

Former White House Aide Gary Lee took to Twitter on Saturday to document an exchange he and President Obama had on his last day of service, and the story struck a chord with thousands. His series of tweets were liked over 140,000 times. Lee recalls how President Obama greeted him in Korean, his parent’s native language, a small but significant gesture left Lee and actor Kal Penn in tears.

After Lee’s departure from the oval office, he encountered Penn, who at the time was working as Associate Director of Public Engagement in the White House. He shared his moment with Obama, and in response Penn started tearing up.

Penn said: “Think about what you just said. How incredible that is. On your last day of work at the White House, after your years of service, the first African-American president greeted you in your parents’ native language,” recalls Lee. “I started crying too.”

Lee opened up about his hard-working Korean-American parents, his job at the White House, and the respect he has for his former boss.

Alluding to what triggered his candid post, Lee wrote about recent reports of Donald Trump’s behavior, in particular, calling out a career intelligence analyst of Asian heritage at a briefing. “No, Where are you really from?” Trump asked her when she said she was from New York.

“This struck a chord with me not only bc I’m Korean-American, but also bc I worked at the White House, for President Obama. I left the WH in 2011 for a Fulbright scholarship in Korea. President Obama knew I was leaving to learn more about the culture and language of my parents,” Lee Tweeted.

He continued sharing his family’s story:

“They made incalculable sacrifices so their sons could have the opportunities they never had. They sacrificed so we could achieve whatever we wanted to. They could have never imagined that their eldest son would work in the White House. In what other country is that even possible?”

In what other country is that even possible? In what other country are you allowed to dream, and despite all odds, pursue and achieve your dreams? In what country could a chubby, 90s Hip Hop and R&B-loving Asian kid from NM end up working for ?”

Lee wished everyone happy Korean-American day and Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend. He summed up his heart-warming story with, “What a beautiful, incredible nation of immigrants we are,” he tweeted.

What a beautiful, incredible nation of immigrants we are, indeed.

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