Herstory: Immigrant Women Experiences

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M
United States

Immigrant Women Experiences

Dear Fellow IMOW Ladies

I migrated to United States in 2002 from India, leaving behind a successful career, friends and family in quest of newer experiences and personal and professional growth. Six years later, I am a changed woman. And a happy one too :-). My experiences (be it professional or social) have been interesting enough to fill the pages of a memoir on immigrant experiences as seen through the eyes of a middle-class woman from a third world country.

I am keen on listening to the experiences of my fellow immigrant women....

a)Has the new geography changed your thinking, belief system, and your attitude toward life?..Has it made you more expansive, accepting, broad and more compassionate?

b)How easy/hard has it been for you to establish a social network or personal relationship?

c)Are you happy with your newly built life in the alien land?

I eagerly look forward to hearing from you all!!

Fondly

Meghna

Boy-meets-girl story

Hi Meghna,

I'm glad you brought out this topic. I would be interested to see the responses of others too.

I'm fairly new to the US, and the reason why I came here is because of the classic boy-meets-girl story.

I had my own career, vast network of contacts and of course, my family and friends before I came to the US. I didn't need to go to another country to have a "better" life financially as I was doing well on my own. But because of my husband who is a US citizen, I have to stay where he is and that's the short story of my being a permanent resident here.

Living here in the US confirmed to me what I have known about Americans from the Hollywood movies - they are outspoken, more liberal (compared to most people from my first home country), very progressive, etc. I appreciate the "free" atmosphere and the diversity of people. There are difficult moments of missing family and close girlfriends and former routines but over-all, I like living here.

It's not that easy to establish friendships since most people are generally busy. Even with my friends here, we have to schedule "appointments" to meet with each other. Add this to the fact that we're living in the suburbs where you have to drive to go somewhere, instead of strolling or walking if we were in the city.

Everything's good with me and my husband (who is the reason why I'm here in the first place), so yes, I'm happy here.

Shaila Abdullah
Shaila Abdullah
United States

Glad to meet you virtually, Meghna.

a)I think coming to US has definitely broadened my horizons. Freedom to pursue one's dreams and being able to see fruits of hard work has been the most rewarding things about living in US.

b)American society, contrary to what is portrayed in the media, is a very giving and embracing society. Establishing connections and networking has never been an issue. Most people, especially here in Texas are always willing to lend a helping hand and go the extra mile for one another.

c)I don't think of this as an alien land at all although my green card did refer to me as an "Alien." In truth the idea of embracing this country as a homeland has unfolded quite naturally.

Shaila Abdullah
http://www.shailaabdullah.com

Apala Guha
United States

Hi Meghna,

Thanks for bringing up this topic. This is a topic close to my heart. I came to USA as a graduate student in 2004 and I am well on the way to my PhD now.

I feel this has been a life changing experience for me. I love the freedom and flexibility I enjoy in my personal and profession lives over here. Overall, this experience has made me more confident and independent.

I would love to go back to serve my own country one day. But I have some apprehensions about it. I have got used to a level of freedom which may not be possible for a woman to enjoy, in India. I agree, that even in USA, there is a lot to do for the improvement of women's lives. But I feel that India is lagging much behind USA in this regard. This is what makes me sad.

However, I see a lot of people putting in efforts to improve women's lives both in USA and India. I follow some of these groups with a lot of interest. Hopefully, I will go back one day.

M
United States

Immigrant Women: Past & Present

Dear All

Thanks for your posts. Reading some of your stories reminded me of their striking closeness to some of mine. Yes, United States is no longer an alien land for me. San Fran is home to me. Coming to United States helped me refine my identity, accentuated my world view. It made me more accomodating of different cultures, broadened my views to include diverse viewpoints and more importantly freed me from some of my uncomly old traits.

A question for you all - How much have you given up, in terms of your past, to become what you have become after coming to the US?

Meghna Damani
Meghna Damani
United States

My Experience

Dear Meghna,
This topic is close to my heart. you can view a trailer of my film at www.heartssuspended.com.

Barsha Hamal
Barsha Hamal
United States

Dear Meghna,

Thanks for starting this conversation.

Some days I find myself getting choked up when I think about home and the life of comfort I have left behind; however, a sense of accomplishment surfaces immediately and I remind myself how truly wonderful it has been to come this far and learn so much. I came to the United States in 2004 and since then, I have been through so many indelible experiences that have had a significant impact in shaping the woman I am today. This country has offered me myriad opportunities to become a part of the real, enduring growth process and learn about the expansive nature of knowledge.

Life in the United States been a long journey of hard work and perseverence. Some days are gratifying, and some are not. That's the nature of life. America, in short, is my home away from home.

M
United States

Hearts suspended

Dear Meghna

Great documentary. Short and Sweet and quite sharp in its message delivery. Enjoyed it very much. Hope your voice is heard!

Alejandra Chaverri
United States

Your film is so moving and real.
With many elements in common, we all have the "With an accent" story in our blood.

Thanks for this film.

though i have not migrated to live or work in other countries. i share your successes, challenges and inspiration, while believing that change that will soon come, will improve migration conditions and spaces, especially for women.

expat or immigrant?

Wow... as an ESL teacher, I thought I had heard all about the immigrant experience, but this framework gives me a whole new take. I haven't previously thought of myself as an immigrant--just an American living in France. An expatriot, (see my blog at: http://expatchats.blogspot.com/) but not an immigrant. Maybe I don't know the difference between these terms as well as I thought I did.

You see... I, too, moved (to Paris--leaving behind a promising pool of teaching opportunities in my native Los Angeles) to be with my man. Difference is, because he is not French, we have to live together for years (3) before I can even ask for any legal right to work.

Most of my friends in Paris are Americans or British and share my passion for writing and living away from "home" ... maybe that's part of the definition... an expatriot is someone still defined by her absence from somewhere else. And an immigrant is maybe someone who has been able to actually (legally) immigrate... integrate to some official extent. I haven't yet been afforded that privilege in France.

Though my status is tenuous, I have learned a great deal in the time I've spent living abroad... relative to my sheltered, middle class American upbringing anyway. Some days I revel in it... some days I just want to tell them all: "enculee!"

Thasneem Hoey
United States

Full of fun

Well life for me is filled with jokes at every corner. For me everything is funny. Perhaps what appears difficult for others is a joke for me. When i leave my house in the morning to take the F train, I tell my husband i have taken my quota of "I am sorry" and "Excuse me". Its stange to see people stand in the subway silent. If you accidently touch someone's hand we have to say sorry. I found that very funny.

I was raised in a mixed family, so mixed that it only helped me know a lot, my family consisted of hindus muslims and christian, who were from different parts of india, with all this confusion one thing that my family did sensible was to send me to an english school.Here I am in US. Married to a Jew. what more diversity can a person have.I love my life because I approach life with open arms.

By profession I am a social worker. This is my third country and I speak 5 languages. I was independent since childhood and that was a blessing. Freedom is what I Love and so I love America, I may not be an American but my mind is. I love the people of the west because, their values are from the self. They are more spiritual than religious. My experiences have been intense and i love that it came with a lot of growth, There are moments in our lives when we know something is not right, but as kids and with societal pressures we just shut down because of our dependency needs, but when we grow up our actualizations crop up and we fully express ourselves when we finally are capable of standing on our own feet.
My family disowns me today, according to them i am deserted, but i live in heaven they have no clue how happy i am in finding myself. A voice that belongs only to me, my expressions that are my own, the values that are far more meaningful to me today. My inner peace is in its bloom.

To be me, i had to remove layers and layers of conditioning, brought about by religion, culture and all societal pressures. I found my individuality, it is so beautiful that my expression is pure, my inner self is not divided any more, i reachout to others just as i reach out to myself, the dormant values that were mine have finally surfaced. And guess what, 911 gave me a new meaning to life. The planes did not fly into the buildings, it flew right inside me and crashed all the walls of blind faith. Many people die in this disaster, and so did my conditioning.
America gave me all the wisdom to be who i am today.

Thasneem Hoey
United States

Breaking the wall of fear.

Sometimes in life, we reach a point to say, enough is enough, something has to change. This is where I made all the changes, nothing made sense that was around me, thoughts, values, culture, religion were more self defeating to me.
I moved to Canada with my daughter, divorced. All I had with me was a desire to find a meaning to my life, and also to make sure that my daughter will find her meaning to her life. We both landed in Toronto heavy hearted with a promise that we will write our fate everyday in the morning and live life with more meaning, reflecting our inner self with honesty, perseverence, dedication and with happiness. We both made a promise that we will be the best of friends and I will be a mother when ever she needed one.
Life was difficult, we worked our way through, we had no money but we pushed and pushed and pushed never did we cry, but laughed non stop with all our jokes. Perhaps harsh life finally gave up on us because we never allowed its harshness deter us from being who we are and what we wanted to be.
My daughter is married today, and so am I. She lives in Canada and I live in US. We are best friends, We learnt one thing for sure that its important to express ourselves openly. When society dictates our lives there is regression and unhappiness. We need to learn to break this wall which we have built based on society's mandates.
The west gave us the soil to breath fresh air of freedom, consciousness, honesty and it loves who we are. It gave all the support and wisdom to put forth our potentials without fear. It gave us the gift of our own self in bloom.

Mukta Gupta
United States

Hearts Suspended

I watched your movie Meghana Damini and I completely understand it even though I didn't have exactly the same experiences as you did coming to this country as a dependent and me on the other hand refusing to come as a dependent. However, we become dependent on the people who sponsor us either it is your husband or it is your employer until we realize there is a bigger world inside that no one from outside can touch it unless we allow it to happen. more later some day.....

take care,
mukta

Diana Mrazikova
Diana Mrazikova
United States

Wannabe an American...

Whaw, it's amazing to see how many of us think alike. I was just thinking about an immigrant topic this morning ... I first came to Los Angeles when I was 19 years old and became international student of Journalism and Photography for 4 years. After completing my studies, I went back to Slovakia and launched a successful career in my field - was working as a feature writer and photographer for biggest women lifestyle magazine EVA and year later I became Editor in chief of OK! magazine Slovakia. Even it sounds wonderful and many envied me, it wasn't enough for me - Slovakia, country of roughly 5 million people, was just too small. I wanted to reach broader audiences with my stories, to be able to make difference, therefore I realized I have to start writing in English and live in US. I'm back in Los Angeles now, where it's harder to make it, but what I love about the place - it's so multicultural. I feel so creative here and I don' t feel borders that much as in Slovakia. I am now filling for an O - artist visa and even I fulfill all extraordinary ability requirements, it's just such an exhausting and pricey process. Despite winning many awards and having many accomplishments, sometimes I feel like a zero when I sit in the lawyers office, and he tells me, it's NOT ENOUGH TO GET A WORK PERMIT. Sometimes I wish it would be easier, so I could focus on writing and important stuff, but we all have different paths how we manage to stay here - Some are lucky - get married here for love, some do it for papers, some live here years in illegality, some go for different types of visas. We all do what it takes to make our American dream come true :) This country has a lot of flaws when you think about politics, health system, money driven society, etc. but in a same time I love its unique blend of people and cultures from all over the world.

Was Touched..

Hi Meghna,i viewed the short film. I was so impressed and touched by it..Hope we'll be good friends.

Regards,
kellyswift
[URL=http://http://pretvoiture.org]Pret voiture[/URL]

Tags: immigrant


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