Growing up, I felt like immigration was always a topic of conversation. Whether it was a dispute in politics, a social studies homework assignment, or even a field trip to Ellis Island, immigration has always been a part of my life. Unlike a lot of my peers, I am a first-gen kid. My parents are immigrants.
I've heard their story hundreds of times by now - they came to America in the seventies to escape communist Poland and work so that they can send money back home to their families. They would work multiple jobs, sometimes 16-hour shifts. Their daily meals consisted of a slice of pizza and some chicken wings because the rest of the money would get saved to support their parents and other siblings.
When they got sick they did not have health insurance or extra money to go see a doctor, they just hoped it would pass and off to work they went the next day. And this is what Williamsburg looked like 40 years ago, a safe haven to Polish immigrants just like my parents.
And every time November rolls around, I remember how grateful I am for my parents who have given me everything I have ever wanted and continue to support me. There is always food on the table, if I do not feel well I can always go to the doctor and afford to get medication, I have always had a roof over my head, and a substantial amount of clothing and shoes.
I have never wondered where my next meal was going to come from or if I was going to sleep out in the cold, and for that I am thankful. I cannot begin to imagine what it must have been like to grow up in poverty. My parents gave me the childhood they never had, and things they could only dream of.
Imagine, every Christmas, all you get under the tree (if you could even get one) was a couple of oranges and a piece of chocolate.
I am the child of immigrants and I am eternally thankful for my mom and dad.