Crescenta Valley High School

Immigration & opportunity

I immigrated to the United States from Japan when I was 5 years old and moved to New Jersey with my parents and my twin brother. At that age, the U.S held the same appeal to me as the New World held for prospective immigrants of long ago: it was a place of adventure and mystery.

It took me a few years to understand why my family immigrated; in fact, initially, I was understandably upset at the prospect of never again seeing the friends I had made. If I was older, I would have heard the whispers of a better life in my parents’ conversations, but in my youth I could only see the negative consequences.

If I was wiser, I would have realized how difficult it was for my parents to leave behind their second home and their friends and colleagues, but childhood blinded me to their struggles. Unbeknownst to me, my Mom and Dad were chasing their own vision of the American dream, attempting to secure it for my brother and me. Upon reflection, it becomes clear to me that they were guided by one word: opportunity.

As a child, I remember being amazed by the people in America. For one, there are people of all backgrounds– the diversity I have been exposed to here is unparalleled by that in either India or in Japan. Also, everyone seemed to be going somewhere in a hurry, particularly in downtown New Jersey. There was always this hungry look in people’s eyes, and I always used to wonder what it was that so motivated them. Now I realize that they, too, were captivated by the idea that motivated my parents: opportunity.

I now understand what caused my parents to relocate the family. I understand why America is the “Land of Opportunity.” Here, we have access to educational and social privileges that many others can only dream of.

We are guaranteed by our Constitution the right to pursue happiness in our lives. We are given tools and guided on the path to success. With a bit of hard work and perseverance, it seems that anything really is possible in America.

At least, that’s how it should be. People should not be denied access to the opportunities which we have in such abundance. Particularly for children, we have a responsibility to uphold the American dream; only then can the United States live up to its famous nickname.