Dear Mom and Dad,
April, 1998: an important and historical month for the Mugeta clan. It was in this month that you, Mom, (eight months pregnant), and you, Dad (definitely not pregnant but definitely exhausted), left the familiar and bustling city of Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania and flew over some 8,000 miles over 17 hours, to the land of 10,000 lakes: Minneapolis, Minnesota. Dad, you were lucky enough to get selected for the U.S Diversity and Lottery program (which, cough, a certain president is trying to eliminate) and had friends here in Minneapolis who were willing to let a few stranglers stay in their apartment for a few months.
Coming to Minneapolis, you guys just wanted the chance to explore. The United States is incredibly hyped up across the globe. "America this, America that, the American dream." Mom, you told me that you jumped at the chance to fly here because, "It's America, and who doesn't want to come here?"
In the 20 years that you've lived here, you've done so many things. You guys had me, Dee and Chris, got jobs, bought a house, Mom, you got a degree and, of course, dealt with the rebellious American generation kids you were raising. Doing all these things isn't easy; too many people make it sound as if moving across the world is easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy when it is far from that. It is shockingly expensive when it shouldn't be, incredibly selective and terrifying. But you guys still make it seem easy.
The judgment that immigrants get from "American Natives" is embarrassing and makes my skin crawl. People, like you two, have uprooted your lives for better opportunity and experiences, yet people will still label you as "job stealers" and other dumb things. It took nine years for us to visit family, to see the Grandmas, Aunt, Uncles and cousins. You didn't just move here for the "American glamour."
It's easy to get caught up in Western cultures and ideas. I'm guilty of it. Sometimes, I take what you do for granted and I feel ashamed thinking about it. I can be selfish and extremely headstrong. Mom, I know you're reading this and laughing because you know this already and know how I always think I'm right about everything.
It's thanks to you guys I get to study a major I love, have all these connections with so many people, have two places to call home and have a stronger bond with others thanks to the experiences we've faced together.
Thanks for being the most genuine parents ever. Seriously. You guys teach me so much and make me want to do everything the world has to offer. I feel like I could be an engineer, teacher and even astrophysicist from all the encouragement you give me. I might be bad at math, but you make it all seem like it's possible.
People who don't have immigrant parents are missing out: the dual languages (even though I can barely stutter three sentences in Swahili), traditional clothing, music that makes you want to dance out of the planet as well as other aspects of culture that just make your everyday life more diverse. And I'm thankful for the culture in my life. I'm privileged to be able to teach and show my children the culture I grew up with and will continue to embrace for the rest of my life.
Thank you, Mom and Dad, for being the best. And for not making me be a Doctor.