Immigrants Hope Their 'American Dream' Isn't Fading
MICHEL MARTIN, host:
I'm Michel Martin, and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up: We're going to talk about immigration - not the pros and cons of legal or illegal immigration. That's certainly been debated enough. Today, we want to talk about the personal side, the emotional side. The mass shooting in Binghamton, New York last week put a spotlight on just how stressful the immigration experience can be. It's been reported that the Binghamton shooter, Jiverly Wong, suffered from some sort of psychological disturbance, and many people around him knew it.
But it also seems clear that no one knew how to help him, whom to ask, or perhaps what to ask for. So we're going to talk about the kinds of services that might have made a difference. That's in just a few minutes. But first, we're going to hear some personal stories. Millions of immigrants have come to this country in search of their own American dream. It's often rewarding, but rarely easy. It's even tougher when the entire country is going through hard times. So here are three stories of immigrants in their own words.
Mr. MARTIN MATODA(ph): My name is Martin Matoda. I'm from Bulgaria. After graduating high school, I decided I was looking for a better education and a better life. The education system in Bulgaria, it's very different from what it is here. It's more academically oriented, rather than practical. And that's why people from all over the world, they want to come here and study and get a hands-on experience and then maybe get a couple of years of real work experience after they get their degree.
I finished my MBA degree this last May, and I was very confident in the beginning that I'll get a job fairly easily with - given that I've a master's degree. And in the beginning, I was talking to recruiters. But as the economy get worse, I started to hear less and less back after I send the resume. And at some point, I didn't hear anything.
Mr. NICK INJOW(ph) (Private Contractor): My name is Nick Injow. I was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya. And I came to the United States. I've been here 10 years. I'm a trained accountant. I joined an accountant firm, went to college in the United Kingdom, and I studied - I majored in economics and social sciences. When I returned to my country, Kenya, back in the late 1990s, there were no opportunities because the political system had run down the economy. Then the opportunity to come to America just surfaced. Everybody was very excited.
You could not describe what is to be in this land and experience all the opportunities we were told about since we were babies. I had two brothers and one sister living in Baltimore, and they thought that I could go back into the corporate world. I entered the corporate world and I worked with a number of companies for about four years doing accounting work, and I experienced the fear of losing my job. That fear became reality because I lost a good, professional job three times.
And no, I'm not disappointed, because every pitfall, I as an immigrant see that there is added opportunity to be something different. So I decided I am going to work for myself. I've been self-contracting for about six, seven years now. The American dream is still very much alive, because I think the dream exists in our minds and in our hearts.
Mr. EDWIN SANGRANO(ph): My name is Edwin Sangrano. I was born in Venezuela. I was raised in Dominican Republic. I will never ever forget the date that we moved here to stay. It was March 26th, 1996. One of the reasons that we thought that we moved to the United States was because economic reasons, and secondly was because my mom and stepfather used to fight a lot. So there was a lot of sort of domestic violence around. My mom was a little, feeling like (unintelligible), so she didn't want us, me and my little brother to grow up in the environment.
Every time I used to go my family, they keep telling me things are very bad over here. But then I think about it, wow. And I told them things are very bad over here, as well. So it makes me wonder, if I go back, am I going backwards? Or should I just keep pushing and stay here? And part of it, my mom sort of needs me. I feel like I'm guarding the American dream for her. She couldn't have the opportunity to go to school, to go to college and pursue a better career. But I feel like it's my job to really be there for her and to continue to push as much as we can.
MARTIN: Those were the voices of Nick Injow, Martin Matoda and Edwin Sangrano.