My Journey into the American Dream!

Fatuma - San Diego, California
Entered on November 14, 2008

Sunny days in Africa will always be vivid in my mind. The day that I am thinking of contained a sky that was crystal clear. People were at peace and calm. You could not even hear a bird singing. My heart was beating faster than the speed of a cheetah; and yet I knew that something bad was going to happen.

Three hours later, my brother shouted at the top of his lungs, “A Muslim man attacked America!” The next thing he said was, “Terrorists attack on American soil.” My brother believed that America had burned down. Despite the tragedy that struck America on September 11, and the horrible consequences that resulted from this surreal attack, I still had my faith in America and in the American dream. For that reason, I believe in and value the American dream because in America, I have so many opportunities that were denied to me in Africa.

My family and I had a flight scheduled for the United States on September 15, four days after the tragedy at the World Trade Center. We were coming from Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya. Kakuma is a place of squalor; where poverty, hunger and insecurity run rampant among nearly ten thousand displaced persons trying to save their own lives. Our life was horrible in this camp. There was no future. Children suffered in the camp because of hunger and the lack of opportunity to be educated. I was totally ignorant about the world because there was no T.V or any kind of media to alert me about what was going on.

Because of the attack, Muslim people like my family who came straight from a refugee camp were fearful about coming to the United States. As soon as we reached New York on September 27th, our scarves were torn off our heads as part of the search process. When we came to America we suffered discrimination because of our faith. Stepping on American soil, we were associated with people from the Middle East. As Dr. Martin Luther King once said, “Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

I believe in the American dream. Even while I suffered in the refugee camp, I believed in the opportunities that life in America could give me. I believe in getting an education as an African female whose community does not believe in educating a girl. I believe in achieving the American dream of one day finishing my college education, obtaining a good career, giving back to my community, and inspiring other refugee women to pursue their dreams and desires in America.

My dream for America goes beyond the assumption that people make about me, my family and about my cultural and ethnic heritage. Although life in America is not easy for an immigrant or refugee, all Americans, and especially new Americans, are able to prosper, educate themselves, and ultimately realize the American dream. I believe in America’s endless opportunities.