My great, great grandparents came from Sweden and settled in Chicago. They had my great grandmother and survived the Great Chicago Fire but lost everything. They took a covered wagon to Nebraska and started their own farm.
Four years ago, I was living in a displacement camp in Somalia where my mother and three of my siblings lived in a makeshift tent with thousands of other families where diseases, wars and droughts had licked through. One of my sisters died instantly from cholera. At times, death was a choice for so many, but it was not for me. I wanted to live to tell my story.
I believe the true beauty of an immigrant is being adaptable to where life places you and embracing what that country means to you and what you can be for that country.
My grandfather and his family immigrated from Russia, in part, to escape persecution of Jews. They came through Ellis Island seeking a better life, like many immigrants at that time.
I didn't speak English and couldn't explain to the teachers why I was constantly in fights. I never understood then why the other kids never said anything on my behalf, but now I know how Trump was elected.
I was born during the last years of the Vietnam War and arrived in America a few years after that tragedy ended. My family escaped Vietnam in the dark of the night, crowded on a small boat with dozens of other desperate families.
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