America has always been fascinating for Pakistanis. Looking up to ones relatives or otherwise so dreaming about getting nationality of super-power of the world. America has always been an appealing destination to settle. Such is the tale of a girl from Pakistan who shared her story of how she went there and materialized her aspirations.
Asra Najam, who is Presidential Writer in the Office of Presidential Correspondence U.S. She shares her journey from Pakistan to America and her experience throughout her life there. She talks about her obsession for America right from her childhood stating
“Mujhe Amreeka jana hai” — I want to go to America.
Those are the words I spoke to my father, pointing to a plane in the sky from our home in Karachi, Pakistan. I was only four years old at the time.
One fine day her fantasy world transformed into reality when she along with family flew to USA on business visitor’s visa which her father had got.
I wasn’t quite aware of what it meant to leave everything we knew, my parents, younger sister, and I said goodbye to our extended family — dozens of aunts, uncles, and cousins, whose love I only receive from a far now — and left to chase the promise of America.
Then she recalls about how she along with her family went to Denver in 1996. Later moving to Michigan and settling there in a community of people belonging to same ethnicity as they did. Recollecting lovely time of her childhood spent in the suburbs of Detroit befriending and upholding ties with the Pakistanis living there.
My sister and I spent our days at school and our evenings playing in the courtyard with the neighboring children. Our mothers would drink chai(Tea) and watch over us. You could find our fathers nearby discussing world politics.
The nostalgic feelings she goes through every time while she visits her old apartment
Every time I go home, I still find myself in the company of those same neighborhood kids. Even though we’ve all grown up to lead different lives, we still look back to the days when we were all nervous and excited to live in a country where we could be anything we wanted.
She talks about the memorable day of her life when she and her family got green card, stamping their stay in America forever.
That day, we all felt a collective sense of pride, relief, security, and possibility. That day, we knew that the home we had built for ourselves here could never be taken away from us.
Further discussing about the goals and ambitions she had in her life
That day, I started dreaming for my future — one I hoped would include service in the government — because I knew I had a stake in bettering this country and in carrying forth its ideals of opportunity and openness
But alongside that she also had to face challenges, as life in itself wasn’t a fairy tale. She says that it wasn’t as easy for her growing up in a foreign country. The complication of being an American, the struggle battle with her identity, and the times when she had to “compensate for being an immigrant by acting more American”.
The struggles in proving herself as an American while expiating in the times of national unrest,
In elementary school, I swapped out my mom’s chicken biryani for bologna sandwiches thinking it would make me fit in better. In middle school, I stopped correcting people who mispronounced my name. During times of national unrest, I carried around collective guilt. And the more I did it, the more I realized I didn’t have to do it.
She mentions that America is a collection of many ethnicities consisting of different caste, creed, color etc. There are approximately three hundred million migrants having their own tales of adaptation.
Being an American has never meant giving up who you are to become something else. It means using the sum of your parts to establish communities, build your livelihood, re-imagine your identity, and grow your dreams. It means that even though there are imperfections in the immigration experience, they are always eclipsed by the overwhelming sense of possibility that makes our nation great.
Getting the immigration of America is not a piece of cake. One has to go through the zig zaged path of hardships and challenges only then does one become eligible of permanently living in a country of their dreams. Especially hard for Pakistanis owing to the image of Muslims portrayed in the foreign world.
But this lady Asra Najam, who was determined enough to accomplish her dreams against all odds. Proved herself and is now a proud resident and presidential at White House.
Ending her blog she says:
An automotive engineer and his wife can proudly pledge their allegiance to this country, and that their daughter, who once looked up at planes in the sky in Karachi, can now look out onto the White House lawn and thank her parents for their pursuit of the American Dream.
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