Gupartap Singh’s Story
As retold by Alysa Figgins
I was born in India in Holy city. It’s a place where it rains practically half of the year and is hot the other half, which if you ask me is unpleasant and quite boring. Holy city was like any other. It was ordinary and plain where there wasn’t much going on half of the time. So, when I was told the news about my family moving to America you can only imagine what was going through my head as a young prepubescent teenage boy. Growing up in India, I have always imagined America in a way that is larger than life. You hear tales about the American dream and freedom, and those things were a part of my expectations for America, but I mostly fantasized about bright lights and flashy people. I imagined being surrounded by Hollywood actors and big cities wherever I went. I thought this was the American Dream. However, my experience did not turn out how I had imagined.
It was a warm night and we had just finished eating our supper. My uncle sat my brothers and I down and told us that we had to wake up early in the morning to go to the United States embassy. He didn’t tell us much after that, just to go to bed soon. But, who could sleep when given such news?
I tossed and turned in my bed all night just imagining what was going to happen. As I woke up, I jumped out of bed put my clothes on as quickly as I could just to wait around for everyone else to get ready. Then we took a few hours drive to get to the U.S. Embassy. The building was massive with a giant eagle plastered on above the doors. It looked so official and clean almost like a place that the Justice League would go for a meeting. There we would wait in the waiting room that was filled with rows of chairs all lined up neatly and facing a row of windows that almost resembled a bank. I remember sitting in the waiting for what felt like hours on the hard leathery upholstery until our number was shouted out. Once we were called, the officers took my two brothers into a room where they would be questioned while my uncle and I sat back down in some more hard leather chairs in front of some other officers. I could see my brothers through a window in the door where they both had to answer some pretty basic questions about our family. After a while by brothers left the room, and I anxiously waited to hear what had happened, what was going to happen, and when it was going to happen.
In a few weeks’ time we had received our passports, in which I looked quite handsome in the photo, and headed out to the ‘promise land’. Our flight was long and we landed in Washington D.C. At first, the sight was beautiful and breathtaking with such fantastic and intricate structures, and I thought that was where we would be living. After a few hours delay in D.C., we got on another flight and headed to Michigan where my parents would meet us at the smaller, but less cramped airport. You can imagine my disappointment when we actually ended up living in a little suburb in the city of Flint, Michigan. This town has some pretty rough areas, but where I live in the area it’s mostly land, with no skyscrapers or extravagant buildings. This town was where my parents had set up their little business, so it was a little town for a little business.
The drive to our house didn’t last long and you can imagine my disappointment again with where my parents had settle. The house was smaller than the one in India, but worse than that was the fact that we weren’t going to be living in Hollywood.
Throughout the week we moved into the new house with ease but, my brothers and I had to wait to go to school until the following year. During that break from school I saw my parents work the hardest I have ever seen anyone work in my life. They were very busy with their business every day, but still managed to spend time with their kids. It inspired me and made me want to own a business in my future. Even though I didn’t live out my imagined “American dream” of moving in Hollywood, I did find a new one.
I figured out that I had all of these different opportunities in the U.S. that I didn’t previously have in India. America allows me to be whatever I want to be, and that dream is alive and well today in my everyday life. My dream awoke with the memories of my parents and their business made me ultimately want to become a business owner myself. I know the journey will be long and not as easy as I may expect it to be, but the final result will be worth every second of my hardships, and I will be living my own American dream.
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.