Pardeep Kaur’s Story
As retold by Debra Gibes
I should be nervous, and I am, but at the same time, I know this is my destiny. I am leaving my family, my culture, and my country for the first time in my life but it is my destiny. I am leaving to study nursing in the United States, but I am more confident than nervous. This moment marks my destiny and my story. I am Pardeep Kaur and I was born in India in 1998, just before the turn of a millennium.
As a girl growing up in this time, the world was mine to explore but not to exploit. My most important responsibility in reaching my destiny has always been to give the utmost respect to those who have gone before me, my elders. They are the ones that I hold dear; they are the ones with wisdom of the ages. They are the ones that opened this opportunity for me to be in America studying at an American college to pursue the career that I was destined to pursue, nursing. This is what I longed for, but this is also what my parents and grandparents longed for.
At the young age of four, my grandpa gave me the confidence to know that being a nurse is what God wanted for me. When I was just four years old my grandfather gave me a very special birthday present, a medical kit. Most four-year-old girls the world over would most likely receive a doll for her birthday, but I received a medical kit. He knew. My grandfather knew what God had planned for me. My grandfather showed me how to “play” with the medical kit, how to give shots, how to take blood pressure, and how to take x-rays. He said, “One day you will become a nurse.”
This was his dream for me but this was my dream for myself too, and he knew it before I did because God showed him. As I began my education, even at an early age I did well in medical related subjects. But then my grandfather passed away; I was sad and depressed. My grandmother sensing my mood, reminded me to fulfill the dream my grandfather knew was mine. This became my dream even more; I envisioned myself in the field of medicine. When I visited the doctor, I wanted to wear the doctor coat. My favorite videos growing up were about the human body or medicine. As I finished my secondary education, my grandmother was also passing away but on her death bed, she reminded me that it was my grandfather’s wish that I become a nurse and that both my grandfather and grandmother would be with me.
Although the passing of my grandmother was difficult, my mother gave me the assurance once again to pursue my dream. She reminded me that it was my grandparents last wishes that I become a nurse. The assurance of my elders and my respect for them gave me the confidence to pursue nursing with all my heart. This also gave me the confidence to pursue another dream; I wanted to study nursing in America where they had the highest standards in education. I believed I had the confidence to meet those standards. Some of my relatives discouraged me along the way and suggested I pursue my studies in Canada but I knew what I wanted. I wanted a nursing degree from the United States.
My mother and father believed in my decision. They had the money to support me and I had earned good grades so when the time came for me to apply for my visa to study in the United States. I had a lot of confidence. But a lot of people want to study in the U.S., so it is not easy to get a visa. I had the grades, I had the money but without the visa there would be no opportunity to study in the U.S. I was nervous when I went into the interview to get my visa but I remembered my grandfather, my grandmother and my parents; I remembered how much respect I have for my elders and I remembered that if I do what is right, God is with me. Once the interview was over and I was told I got the visa, I started to cry because it was my dream come true.
Now that I am here in America, I have realized that respect is one of the most important lessons in life. Respect is what brought me to the place where I could achieve my dream. But when I observed my fellow students in my classes at Mott Community College where I am studying, I readily noticed that they do not give their teachers respect in this way. In my country teachers have respect because like the God of Knowledge, they have wisdom to impart. If the teachers did not share their knowledge, the students would not have it and they could not become like their elders. That is why it is very important that while I am in America, I uphold the value of respect to my teachers.
I have also realized the immense responsibility that my parents have imparted onto me. Like most youth in my country, my parents taught me how to work hard, how to value money, and how to behave with dignity. I uphold the values of my upbringing and do not drink alcohol while I am in the U.S. even though other youth choose to do so. I am learning to manage my money for the first time so that I can use it wisely as my parents expect, and I have learned to be responsible for myself.
Once again God has provided support through the elders in my life. My roommate, who is also from India, is working on her Master’s degree at the University of Michigan Flint. She is my role model and my support. My two aunts who live in Indiana also supports me. She tells me that I am in the best country in the world to get a college education. My teachers at Mott support my pursuit of my associate’s degree in nursing and my desire to transfer to the University of Michigan for my bachelor’s degree.
If it weren’t for the elders in my life, I would not be where I am today. They give me maturity and wisdom and in return I give them my respect. I am looking forward to the day when I am officially declared a nurse and my grandfather knowingly will be smiling from heaven.
This story originally appeared in Facing College: Immigrant & International Students’ Stories, a publication of The Facing Project that was organized by Mott Community College in Flint, Michigan.