The American Dream is defined as “the ideal by which equality of opportunity is available to any American, allowing the highest aspirations and goals to be achieved”. It was something I strived for, before I understood the concept. My family moving to the US was a big deal, as the States are glorified and romanticized as a place with endless opportunities. And growing up, that is what I saw it as: a magical place with snow and cleanliness, where the streets weren’t littered with the tragic remnants of poverty. I took a lot of pride, maybe a little too much, in the fact that I lived in the US. It was a beautiful life, and I was in the United States and my primal mind thought I could do anything I wanted. I didn’t think much until high school as all of my friends began getting small part time jobs. As someone on an H4 dependent visa, I could not work. I didn’t understand why. I had lived here almost my entire life, like them, but I couldn’t get a job as a Starbucks barista? I didn’t think much of it, and my dad told me not to worry much about it. I was very fortunate and grateful because I had never had a shortage of anything in my life. This was just the beginning of my eyes opening to injustices that thrived on immigrants’ hard work all around me. College applications are stressful enough for everyone, but having so many questions as an H4 holder added layers of a different kind of stress. It inhibited my eligibility for financial aid and almost every scholarship. I got into a top five art program where they do co-ops. I am a second year student right now and begin my first co-op this coming summer. Now comes a different battle – if I don’t get my work permit in time, I may have to switch to an F1 visa status where I will be eligible to work, but I will become an official international student and have to start paying international fees.
Moral of the story is: American Dream is based on privilege and is not equally accessible to everyone. Some people have to work much harder to acquire their American Dream, and I’ve fallen into that category. As hard as it is to stay positive about it all, I always hope for the best but expect the worst so I can be prepared.