The Curious Case of The Legal Immigrant
By Sandhya Ramachandran
Around 7 months ago, there was an idea to start a project that captures the emotions and experience of being an international student in the USA. An alien with a visa. Since then, a lot has happened. The plight of an immigrant in America has garnered international attention. It seems like the world is ready to hear the voices of legal immigrants and better understand their point of view.
The sense of urgency to tackle this topic really hit me after grad school.
Amidst job search mania, I noticed my well intentioned American friends would offer me suggestions and leads, and each time I had to launch into an explanation of ‘its not that easy’. An international student seeking employment in some ways IS a disability that isn’t listed in any of the forms you fill out. Speaking to classmates and even professors, you understand how ‘in the dark’ they are about your job hunt process and how you fit into the framework of this society. It is a two way problem. Not just ignorance and lack of interest, but also this air of secrecy with regard to legal immigrants that remains due to political correctness.
This is an attempt to to hear the experiences on all sides of the story — the ones preparing to make the move, the ones in limbo and the ones settled in. I want to document this chapter that is so increasingly common among modern Indian youth. I want to validate this experience that at times is so exhilarating but quickly makes one feel ‘like I have a human expiration date’ (beautifully explained by my friend here).
Our story matters and we owe it to ourselves and the future to have it told.
To build a stronger community for international students here now and those yet to come.
To enable empathy and understanding so that the word ‘immigrant’ doesn’t result in immediate paranoia. Race and diversity are crucial topics etched in the fabric of a nation like America, a nation of immigrants just that each time the discussion is re-opened, the details evolve.
To address the deeper question of how studying abroad influences the perception of happiness and success.
Excerpt from an article originally published here.