When I first came to the U.S. in ’94, I was excited about reuniting with my sister, who had immigrated two years prior. During a morning jog, she reflected on her immigrant experience: “When I lived in Peru I felt like a withered rose, slowly dying… until I came here and felt like I was given water… and, drop by drop, brought back to life.” My sister, who had graduated from the top Technical Engineering school in Peru, could not find a job because she was a woman. Her dream was to become a professional and afford a decent life. She eventually accomplished her dream and much more; she currently works and lives in Silicon Valley with her husband and two children.
Carlos with his family in Peru. Photo by Jesus Fonseca.
In 2003, my brother came to the U.S. looking for a job so that he could provide for his family. In Peru, he had worked as an architect for employers who did not pay him in time and sometimes did not pay him at all. This financial stress was tearing his family apart. Therefore, I sponsored him to come to the U.S. When I picked my brother up at the airport, I felt alarmed by his deteriorated physical and emotional condition. His only goals were to get a job and send money back home. He eventually accomplished his goals and much more; he currently works in Dallas, Texas and provides for his children. He lives a robust life surrounded by a strong community of native-born and immigrant friends.
These stories are not unique. Throughout my life in the U.S., I‘ve had the privilege to meet and live with native-born and immigrants who have realized their dreams in spite of extraordinary hardship. Therefore, when politicians introduce genuine inspirational stories of extraordinary individuals, I think about my own story and those of my loved ones and I feel overwhelming gratitude toward this country and its people. When I think about what would my sister’s, my brother’s and my own life would have been had we not immigrated, I do feel like this country is the Best Place on Earth.
Carlos Espinoza-Toro is a Peruvian Immigrant living in Cambridge, Massachusetts. CoLab is publishing personal reflections on the American Dream narrative, as well as other election-related posts, during the Republican and Democratic National Conventions.