“But I choose to let no obstacle stop me from my dreams. I will continue to fight with the grit and determination my parents have instilled in me.”- Harishree Karthik

I remember my first flight journey. I was a 7 year old girl on a journey to a whole new world-America. Little did I know that my first plane ride would turn my whole life into a series of firsts.

I remember timidly reaching for my first chicken nugget at a McDonalds, where my mom and I finally rejoined my dad. Two years prior, my dad had immigrated to America on a worker visa to try to find a stable job before bringing my mom and I. Those 2 years were the start of the endless sacrifices my parents made to provide a life for me in America. It has been 14 years since and we have not gone back to visit our family in India due to the fear of not being able to return. I didn’t realize what my parents were giving up until I was 17 years old, when my grandmother passed away. My grandmother had been bedridden for 11 years due to a stroke. Every time she saw me on a video call, I saw a priceless joy on her face, a picture that will forever be fresh in my mind. She would tell me she was waiting for the day she could hold me in her arms again. But she never got the chance to.

Looking back, I feel this internal anger towards my parents. They gave up so much-weddings, birthdays, funerals. The lost opportunity of taking care of their parents, though not expressed, I know kills them inside. And it’s all for my chance in America. I am their dream. They showed me life is limitless and that I can make an impact in this world. I had the opportunity to break boundaries as a woman and be many firsts in my family. But on my 20th birthday, reality hit me hard. I found out that I had to switch from my dependent visa to an international student visa. Ever since, I’ve been shackled by my immigration status. I do not have the same opportunities and I am not treated as an equal to my peers. The daunting question of whether I will get deported will always loom around me. The chance of my deportation is not only about the loss of my hard work or the threat of getting kicked out of home, it is also about my parents’ sacrifice going in vain. But I choose to let no obstacle stop me from my dreams. I will continue to fight with the grit and determination my parents have instilled in me. 

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