I had a very faint idea about what to expect.
I knew that America was a country built by the immigrants. Millions went there, worked hard, and had lots of success. And, so could I.
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I answered them diplomatically. I just want to be closer to my parents and siblings and want to become a full-fledged attorney in California. I did not tell them—and most of them did not know that I would have to study California law and pass the California bar exams in order to practice in that state. I knew in my inner being that I could and would pass the bar.
I had read about it and knew that it would be another tough exam that I would have to study for. As it lifted into the clear blue skies, my mind raced with doubts about whether I had made the right decision to leave my homeland. What was my destiny and what kind of challenges would I face?
I looked at my wife and daughter and wondered whether I was taking the right course of action for them. My face betrayed my anxiety and fear of the unknown, but deep inside, I knew that it was the best I could do for us. The six-hour flight to Honolulu, Hawaii, was uneventful. During the two-hour layover, we took a stroll through the terminal. We bought two ham sandwiches and two Pepsis—and the bill came to nineteen US dollars. My wife and I looked at one another and thought that it was the most expensive lunch we had ever bought and wondered whether the prices were going to be the same on the mainland.
In Fiji, the same lunch would have cost us less than eight dollars. My mind was bogged down by the idea that, because we were going to be making big money in America, a nineteen-dollar lunch would be just pocket change. Little did I know that it would take years of hard work and a lot of sacrifices to achieve these material things and to live the American Dream of luxury and prosperity. We got back on our plane and, in six hours, we arrived in San Francisco. My parents, my two brothers, my sister, and brother-in-law were waiting for us at the terminal.
We exchanged hugs, kisses, and stories. They had a modest home decorated with American-style furniture—and lots of family pictures on the walls. My parents were overjoyed to see us after several years of only phone calls and letters. They were delighted to feast their eyes on their first granddaughter. We were welcomed with a chicken curry dinner and traditional rice, daal, chutney, and lots of other savories that my mother and sister had cooked earlier in the day.
It was well after midnight before we went to bed. The beautiful winter morning was cold, but the skies were clear and blue. It warmed up quite a bit during the midday, making me feel as if I had the made the right decision to move to the Bay Area. Watching children play in the streets was a first for me. In my old country, while growing up, we never played on the road.
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We always had plenty of space in our backyard or in neighborhood parks to play with our friends. The other first was the way that the roads and streets were planned, designed, and built. Everything—from houses to fences to driveways, and gutters—looked clean and showed pride of ownership. I realized—to my amazement—that all the vehicles were driving on the right side. I started to wonder whether I would ever be able to drive on the right side, but after speaking with my folks, I was assured that it would be an easy transition.
The other thing that took me by surprise was that I noticed an equal number of male and female drivers. At that point, I reminded myself that this was a land of equal opportunity. Women had equality—and enjoyed astronomical socioeconomic advances. With each passing day, slowly but surely, the culture shock started to set in. Change and adjustment were the code words. Everywhere I looked—TV, roads, parks, shopping centers, and movie theatres—the demeanor and lifestyle and thinking of American people were different. They spoke differently, they dressed differently, and they had slightly different opinions about life and how to live it.
I immediately realized that there were some things that I would have to learn in order to quickly adjust to American lifestyle. Over a few weeks, it occurred to me that there were a bunch of things that I could read about, learn, and practice immediately. In doing so, my daily living—and my chances of obtaining my first job—would become easier. I sat down and made a list. The more inquisitive I got and the more that I watched the way others were carrying on with their daily lives, the longer my list grew. My father and brothers were my mentors and assisted me in compiling it.
My list included:. I had to get driving lessons and go for a driving test. Once my license was obtained, I had to get a decent, reliable car. Obtaining a Social Security card. Without one, I was told that no employer would want to even interview me. We went to the Social Security office and were told that the card would arrive in the mail in six weeks. It actually only took five.
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Obtaining health insurance. I was informed that medical insurance was also a necessity because, if one of us got sick, I would have to spend virtually all of my money on medical bills. Since I was a spiritual person, I prayed every day that none of us would get sick until I got a job and was enrolled in a medical insurance plan. Learning American English. I needed to quickly learn clear American English so that everyone would understand me. I had always spoken fluent English, but I had a strong East Indian accent. To remedy this, I tried to listen to more English radio stations and TV programs.
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When I was alone, I repeated sentences and phrases to myself. I was determined to get the American style of pronunciation. I was strongly advised to get familiar with some American slang. Some of the words that I quickly learned were:. This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue? Upload Sign In Join. The knowledge of how the gas sector works costs, potential revenues, contracts, etc remains a new area for many civil society organizations and media in Tanzania.
For example, Tanzania Gender Networking programme TGNP is seeking ways to increase its participation in the process so that it contributes to the efforts to integrate gender considerations into the governance of natural resources, especially in the gas sector, and to ensure that women benefit equally from the huge potential the sector wields.
After the ‘End of History’
With the promise of more information becoming available as explained elsewhere in this blog, there will be a huge opportunity for advocacy. My team is positioning itself to taking advantage of that opportunity. Peace and stability in Tanzania offer a favorable environment where the benefits of natural gas can be harnessed and reinvested for development. But for that environment to be maintained, managing public expectations is critical.
East Asia and Pacific: Growth Slows as Trade Tensions and Global Uncertainties Intensify
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Author bio Guest Blogger Along with our regular bloggers, we occasionally invite other Oxfam staffers, volunteers, and supporters to contribute their stories. More posts by Guest Blogger. Related posts The State of our World: Prosper together or suffer apart posted on January 30, Who should sell the last of the fossil fuels: Stranded assets, equity and climate change posted on May 9, Scandal in Tanzania: A little context and 3 lessons posted on December 3,