On March 4, 1966, a family of 5 stepped foot onto American soil for the first time. With only a purse full of money and the clothes on their back, they felt truly unsure where their new country will take them. Coming from a farm that had zero electricity and no running water, anything was better than the life they once lived. The family had humble beginnings in the America. To make ends meet, the parents worked laborious hours and the children found work as soon as they were able to speak an appropriate amount of English. They lived in an apartment behind a storefront that realistically could fit about two people comfortably, and yet they fit two adults and three growing children. It wasn’t easy, but sure enough, the family lived out the American dream. The children married, started their own businesses, had kids of their own, and continued to work hard even though their lives are incredibly better than what they would have had in their home country.
That family is my family. I am a first generation family member from my mom’s side. My grandparents went from being farmers in one of the poorest parts of Poland to being an apprentice for a welder and a laborer in a can company. Due to World War II shutting down schools, they only had a fourth school level education to try and get them through life. When they came to this country, they did not know a lick of English and heavily relied on their children to acclimate to the country and help them survive. My mom, aunt, and uncle got thrown into the American school system without previously not having the opportunity to go to school. My aunt and uncle had it the worst: being late elementary school-middle school aged with limited knowledge of things from being homeschooled and being put in a school system with a somewhat weak English as a Second Language Program. Regardless of the circumstances, even in the hardest of times, my family kept going.
My mom is arguably one of the biggest Bruce Springsteen fans. Growing up, and even today, it wasn’t a road trip without “Born in the U.S.A.” being played on the radio and my mom immediately cranking up the volume. It’s a song that reminds her of her childhood as Bruce was a solace in the midst of the struggles her life brought. Granted, the lyrics themselves comment on Vietnam vets coming home from war and nothing really about being born in the United States, but there’s something liberating and peaceful when you jam out to the lyrics. The song is almost as American as apple pie and baseball, but I happily associate it with my family and their immigration to the States. After hearing recent events, I instantly took to this song to gain some peace in a rather unjust situation.
Although I am not impacted by recent restrictions to our immigration system, I am an American who is built on the bedrock of an immigrant family. I can feel for those trying to come to our country for a better life because that is exactly what my family did a little over 50 years ago. Whether you’re physically born in this country or come here, at some point all residents get birthed into our nation. America provides the means to create a life no matter who you are, where you’re from, what you believe in, etc. You do not need some grand and noble purpose to be here and therefore you should not need some grand and noble purpose to stay. I am incredibly inspired every day because of my family not because their actions but because I know I have the ability to maintain those similar opportunities my family got to experience. I am pursuing the degree to create a better life for others. I am graduating from a school that has exposed me to people from all walks of life and provides the opportunities to fight for what is right in the world. I am a second generation family member, physically and spiritually born in the U.S.A and I will never forget that.