America is a land of immigrants, and for many years people across the world have dreamed the American dream – still, a land of opportunity. Immigrants you come across every day, woven in the fabric of the American society – the Ethiopian cab driver who hasn't seen his mother in 25 years, the friendly Bangladeshi store owner, the good-looking Colombian waiter, the kind Mexican housekeeper, or even the solitary Indian tech guy working late hours in Silicon Valley- all have a history. They have left their families behind in the countries they were born in, but not just for a better pay-check. A Chinese friend once said- ‘we are doing it for our children.’ So they may have the opportunities we didn't have. And by 'children' I don’t just mean our offsprings; we all hope for a better tomorrow for ourselves; where there is more value of life, more social justice, and less haggling required for daily life. And though I had a very comfortable childhood, I think I will flourish better in this environment than in any other.
After the recession hit, a lot of Indian immigrants I know went back to their countries. They reasoned, ’Why stay away from your families, live in a country where domestic help is so expensive, and miss the good food when you can get similar/better opportunities back home?’ They have a point, but career opportunities don’t present themselves, sometimes, you have to create them. I was disappointed every time I heard a hiccup about my H1B sponsorship, even after being a committed student at my B-school with straight As in all my Marketing courses. But I wasn't a risk-free candidate - there was no guarantee I wouldn't go back sobbing to my mommy if things went wrong in the workplace. And I was an extra $4000 sponsorship cost to the firm. Was I irreplaceable? There were 50 other American candidates with more experience vying for the same position. Was it frustrating to be rejected after a third round of interview- over and over again? Of course, but I did what I usually do when I hit a dead end, feel more determined to get over my situation. What could I do to become irreplaceable? What I am best at: learn, unlearn, relearn. Assess what needs to be done to develop a unique skill set. I am a fighter and regret is unprofessional. In all honesty, my priorities were different a couple of years ago.
In 2008, when I was still in B-school, a Democrat named Barack Obama ran for presidency and won. The’ Hope’ poster designed by Sheppard Fairey gained popularity during his election campaign. It is 2012, and I still have a long way to go before I build my dream, which gets bigger every day. But when I think of the early settlers who arrived cramped in ships, fought hunger and plague, bore great hardships, memories of their past, hope for a better future wherever they went and made it their home, I feel sure I can do it too. In fact, I had it easy till now.
Being an expatriate is like having two mothers, you can’t love either less. But having a dream is a great responsibility too- you can’t just give it all up and go for the easier option. I would like to stay on try. And I know the change I want to see, the seed of hope is in me.