I believe in the American Dream…
America? Yes, America! My uncle exclaimed amid a heated debate with my father. His hands were moving uncontrollably; his face was a sea of wrinkles, and his gaze was so fierce it actually scared me. It was the first time I heard the word America. The year was 1990. I remember walking outside and continuing to play with rocks, but over the next several years the words democracy and America plagued most of their conversations.
Albania, a Balkan country slightly smaller than Maryland, was home for the first 14 years of my life. Life there was hard, but things were constant. Waiting in line for hours to buy bread was part of my routine. My family accepted the fact that running water and hot showers were something we could not enjoy daily. My mother’s mention of candy or a new soccer ball, both scarce, would make me behave for days.
In August 24, 1997 my family moved to Myrtle Beach, S.C because the only person we knew in this country lived there. The move was by far the most drastic turn my life has taken. My father’s name was drawn from a lottery pool allowing my immediate family to obtain green cards and have the option of becoming American citizens.
It was my father’s lifelong desire to pursue the American Dream of exercising his freedom of speech, and to obtain an education for his kids. To Albanians, America has always been a beacon of freedom, hope and prosperity.
While Albania’s transition to democracy has been difficult as transient governments have attempted to deal with high unemployment and corruption, our transition to a new country has been more successful. We have become American citizens. My parents are both employed, and continue to adjust to live here. My older brother owns and runs a successful restaurant. My twin brother and I were the first in our family to graduate from college. Upon graduation he accepted a job as a relationship banker, and I am in my first year of law school.
I must say that it was not at all easy, but the American dream never is. All of us made a lot of sacrifices and worked hard to accomplish my father’s dream.
Now, we happily stand as a living example that the dream has not died out, and that nothing will stop other immigrants in their quest of the American Dream.
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