Maiem Alam: The Depth of Immigration

Maiem Alam

Maiem Alam doesn’t know the struggles of immigration first hand, but he knows what his parents have endured and the strength it has taken. In his story, he talks about the numerous struggles that face families and individuals who immigrate away from their homes in search of a better life.  He writes about why immigrants deserve more respect and compassion, given the immense hardships and sacrifices they often have to make.  

Immigration is an incredibly hard transition that is misunderstood by many — but highly appreciated by the ones who have made the journey.

If you think about it, no one really wants to immigrate. No one wants to stay away from his or her loved ones and experience heartache. No one wants to leave his or her roots, culture and traditions and embark in a journey with little known about what the future holds.

However, unfortunately, some of us have to make this unbelievably hard decision to leave everything behind in pursuit of a better life with nothing but a heart full of hope. My family is one of the many who had to make that decision.

My story actually starts with my dad not me; a person who I look up to with an immense amount of respect for what he has done for himself and my family.

My dad was born in a town on the outskirts of the capital Dhaka called Comila, in Bangladesh. During my dad’s teenage years —the time when a boy builds up his future and prepares himself for a betterment — Bangladesh was fighting for its independence from Pakistan. It was a bloody war, with numerous people dispersed from their homes with nothing but a will to survive. Many died in the war fronts fighting for earning their liberty and freedom. During this time, my dad’s family lost everything.

After the war, my father made a bold decision to challenge the social taboo of love marriage. Society looked upon love marriage as a dishonoring act, highly frowned upon, but my dad had decided to stand up for what he felt was right and for his love regardless of what society thought. His family did not approve of his decision, which led to him being disowned by the family he had loved very much.

My father was struggling financially and had no stability, which was essential to support his newly started family. He would do what he could but it was not ideally sufficient. He had a friend who was aware of his situation and presented him with an opportunity to travel to the U.S. to work as a clerk in the local post office. Because of the struggles he was facing, he decided to seize the opportunity and make the journey, although it wasn’t an easy decision to leave behind his beloved wife and a newborn daughter and travel to a country he little knew about nor did he speak the language. But he made this journey with only one thing on his mind — to make sure he provided an improved life for this loved ones and made their lives better. It was not a journey filled with utter joy but with utter determination to make it in life and achieve his optimal level of success.

Once in the U.S., he worked a variety of jobs, which ranged from cleaning to working as day labor, and he did it all so he could afford to bring my mom and my sister close to him.

It was seven years until he could see his wife and daughter again.

It’s unimaginable how much courage it takes for someone to miss the entirety of his baby’s childhood. But it’s his extremely hard working demeanor that started his journey towards a good life. All of which happened due to his decision to make the journey.

Others tend to see your results and envy your outcomes, but they fail to take notice of the amount of hard work and sacrifices you have made to get where you stand today. The sacrifice my parents had to make is unbelievable. The voyage they went on included countless taboos and obstacles. No one sees the emotional, physical and the mental toughness it took for them to fight all the odds and be where they are. It wasn’t a journey taken out of joy but rather a journey taken based on hope.

I think immigration should be much more appreciated and cherished rather than looked down upon. One has given up on their home to make this land their new home. It’s time we understand the depth of the word “immigration” beyond its definition.