To my immigrant father,
I’m sure I don’t say it enough, but I’m thankful for my dad. I’m thankful for the journey he has taken in his life to get to the position he is in now, and that I was able to be involved in that growing up. He is probably working very hard in his office as I type this, as his work ethic is one of the most valuable traits about him.
My dad was born in Umuahia, which is the capital city of Abia state in Nigeria. Growing up in Nigeria was fun for him except for the Nigerian civil war during his childhood. Although the war was tough, he has good memories of his childhood -- of having loving and caring parents and amazing friends. Thank you for loving your culture and Nigeria, and teaching me to love it as well.
He migrated from Nigeria to the United States in the summer of 1979. He came to the United States to go to college. The transition was difficult his first year. The food was different, the English was different, and he, of course, didn’t know anyone here. He wanted to go back home badly the first year. He would always have nightmares, and dreamed about home almost every night. Thank you for working hard and fighting through it all.
The biggest hardship was financial. It was difficult to get money from Nigeria because the government did not allow free and easy transfer of money from Nigeria to the United States. Things got better as he settled into his studies and made new friends. He enjoyed the social and school activities like International Students’ Association and black student union. Thank you for also embracing the new growth in your life and persevering while also staying true to yourself.
He is currently an accountant; a CPA in public accounting. In his role as a CPA, he does taxes and performs audits of companies -- both profit and not-for-profit. He also consults for companies on how to better run their companies. Through all of this, he came to America to attend college, to obtain a good education and then go back to my home country to help others. But life happened, and he settled in the United States. Thank you for your strong work ethic and reminding me to find a passion in life that you can use to help others.
Like many other immigrant families, you came to America for more opportunities and a better life. You had to adjust to the different culture while being miles away from your home where your friends and family were. You worked hard through school, multiple jobs and moments of doubt from yourself and others. I carry this in my thoughts every day as to hopefully, one day, make you proud of my accomplishments. I know that I have so many more opportunities in America because of you. I am proud of you and look up to you more than you imagine.
This letter is to remind myself and others that we all are components of the people before us and the struggles and victories that they encountered. We all come from immigrants. In this political atmosphere, there has been a distortion of what an immigrant is, that they are not looking for land, life, and liberty as everybody else. Immigrants are not criminals, but people of intelligence, compassion, love, and hard work. They have aspirations, families and stories.
I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it wasn’t for my dad, and I thank him for that.