Has the American Dream Changed for Immigrants Today?
Each one of us possesses a vague notion at the minimum of what we would like to be or do someday. We all have dreams of how we want our future to unfold. Whether it is to own a house, run a business, start a family, or to be financially secure. But we often find immigrants move to the United States with one common dream, living the “American Dream”. But what is the American Dream?
Immigration to the United States has occurred in waves, but the factors that drive people to move here have remained more or less the same. Back in the days, the American dream meant to have safety, freedom, and opportunity. It had a lot to do with ethics and morality in general. Ask immigrants why they came to America and you would be told hundreds of different stories. But the majority of these stories usually boil down one common need; the need to feel safe and the need to have the freedom and opportunity to be somebody.
Here’s one such inspirational story of a Nigerian immigrant that struggled to live the American Dream.
It was January 09, 1999 when 12-year-old Ashanti (name changed) lay silent and despondent in a dark room at a cancer shelter for children in her hometown of Kampala, Uganda. She was suffering from a rare form of cancer and faced barriers that prevented her from receiving the care she needed to fight cancer. She had traveled for miles by foot to get to the closest hospital only to be turned away. In her village, healthcare professionals were familiar with treatment for malaria, HIV, and typhoid, but they lacked the awareness to treat Ashanti’s cancer. Many Africans who get cancer assume they are doomed, but Ashanti and her mother took destiny in their own hands. Ashanti had decided then that she would not go down without a fight. They gathered the little money that they had and fled to the United States. It was here that she received the care and treatment that she deserved. Ashanti who back then did not know a word of English earned her GED and her Master’s Degree. Her struggles like many other immigrants were real. She’s now 32 years old, lives in Central Philadelphia and runs a non-profit that is dedicated to serving those affected by childhood cancers. She considers this her way of giving back to the country that not only welcomed her despite her origin but also treated her illness. To this day, she is grateful for the real-life heroes that helped her through her battle with cancer and gave her another chance at life.
Many of us have stories of ancestors who underwent hardships in their quest for success. But their efforts continue to inspire us to this day. And although the American Dream has changed radically over the years, immigrants of America continue to strive for success and contribute to the economy of the nation through their journey of hardships. America’s immigration history is filled with stories of immigrants who have overcome economic, religious and social hindrances to thrive in their respective fields. Our national identity is shaped by the energy, drive, and motivations that each successive generation of immigrants bring to this country. Immigrants pursue their dreams and fulfill their passions all while bringing positive changes in their communities. The American economy is strengthened by the contributions made by immigrants.
Today, we have a whole new generation of immigrants. They too are dreamers that are prepared to face the challenges, all just to build a more secure future for themselves, their families and impact their communities in positive ways. It’s because of these immigrants that America is as culturally diverse with a blend of ethnicities. It is because of these immigrants that America is known to have one of the most complex cultural identities in the world.