The School Newspaper of Texas High School

Motivation for immigration

February 1, 2023


Zulfia Islam (mom), Md Kalam (dad), and Nabil Kalam (brother) stand in a rose garden in Conn. a year after immigrating to the United States. (submitted photo)

People always just see me as someone who tries hard in school to get good grades. But they never ask why I try so hard. Even though I want academic validation, and I want to get into a good college, those reasons are never the main motivation. 

My parents immigrated to the United States in 2001 from Bangladesh, a small, overlooked country to the right of India. They moved long before I was born, but they did it so their kids could live a better life. They left everyone and everything behind to build a new life with better oppurtunities. 

Even before they moved, they went through a lot of hardships. My dad grew up in a small, impoverished village. His family’s economic situation was not good, so it was tough to provide a good education. He went to school, but it wasn’t in the best condition. 

He ended up being on his own in fourth grade. He would sleep on a bench inside of his school because the journey from his house to the school was too long. He would visit his parents a few times a week, but he never stayed. 

Fast forward a few years, at the age of 16, my dad decided to get a higher education, so he moved to the city by himself with little money in his pockets. He took the national college entrance exam with no expectations, but he ended up scoring really high. Even with so little, my dad was able to get into the top ranked college in the country. 

But there was still one problem. Since he didn’t have any money, he couldn’t afford to live in the dorms. He didn’t know anyone in the city, so he was basically homeless for a few months.  He eventually found a family to take him in after he put an ad in the newspaper offering tutoring services in exchange for shelter. The family that took him in was my mom’s relative, and both of their lives changed after that. 

My mom was the eldest daughter in the family. During that time, it was expected for the women to get married and stay at home to take care of the kids and house. But despite that, my mom got a master’s degree at the top ranked university in Bangladesh and hoped to be a professor. 

Unfortunately, my parents immigrated before my mom was able to start her career, and because of the language barrier, she was unable to get a job in the field she wanted over here. She sacrificed her dream career for her kids to live a better life.

Even though life in the U.S. was better economically, it was still hard for them to live here because they didn’t have their family with them for support. But over time, they found a small Bengali community in the small town of Storrs, Conn. to lean on. 

My parents eventually became used to their new way of life, but there were moments where they felt out of place. They had to miss birth, death and every important event you can think of. 

My dad made me realize how fortunate I am to be receiving an education that he wished he had at my age, and my mom helped me realize that it’s important to make something out of my education.

Before, I used to think that my parents put a lot of pressure on me to get good grades, but now I realize that I put pressure on myself to do well because they struggled so much for me to be able to live the way I am.

My parents made something out of nothing to give my brother and I everything, so if they could make such a big sacrifice, why can’t I put in a little extra effort to fulfill their dreams along with mine? 

Tiger Times • Copyright 2023 • FLEX WordPress Theme by SNOLog in

Comments (0)

Please leave us a comment. All comments must be approved before they will show online.
All Tiger Times Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *