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My American Dream

by Ligin Solamen

Congratulations to the winners of the Steppenwolf for Young Adults’ essay contest! Last fall, students who attended our production of The Glass Menagerie were given the opportunity to write an essay on their interpretation of The American Dream. We are pleased to recognize the following students for the ambitious and thought-provoking essays: First Place: Ligin Solamen Honorable Mentions: Rawan Hishmeh and Jacquelyn Guillen My American Dream by Ligin Solamen Growing up in India, one of the poorest nations in the world, my mother suffered many tragedies. Her father passed away as a result of cancer when she reached the age of thirteen, and her closest sister also died of cancer when my mother was twenty-two. She lived in one of the most poverty stricken villages of India, but she was determined to escape. After her father died, she pledged to herself that she would somehow flee from the depression of India and begin a new life in America. On May 18, 1999, her dream came true when we, my parents, my two older sisters and I, arrived in O'Hare Airport in Chicago with ten suit cases on the trolley. In India, people talked of America as being God's heaven on earth. You could push a button and your car would start, you could push a button and your air conditioning would turn on, you could push a button and cash would flow out of the ATM, you could push a button and your troubles would fly away. We moved into an old dilapidated, diminutive apartment and lived there for almost nine years, and after nine years of prayers, we moved into a single two-story house. My mother's wishes and dreams became reality that breezy autumn morning. We came to America; she gave her children what she could give, even though things were not of the highest quality. My mother allowed me to have an American dream. My American dream is not my mother's, my father's, or even my grandmother's dream. It is my dream. It is what I want in my life. It is something that I will make sure I achieve, because if I do not, the ten hour shifts that my parents worked on weekends and holidays will all be in vain. will not settle for anything less than my American Dream. When we came to the U.S. in 1999, my parents immediately went to work because there were five people who needed to be nourished three times a day. They did not get the advantage to go to school, and they barely spoke English. If my mother said a sentence that was grammatically correct, it would be like finding a half a gram of gold in the middle of a hundred thousand acre farm land. My mom's greatest regret is not being able to study and graduate with a degree so she could have a career instead of working a blue collar job. My American dream is to go beyond what my parents provided for me because when I become a mother I yearn for my children to have the finest, just like what my mom wanted me to have. I hope that my kids to grow up and have knowledge of where my parents came from and where I came from. I want them to have a chance to achieve their goals without any economic barrier hindering them. The American Dream is a goal set by Americans of what they want their future to hold. It can be diverse and vary according to one's desires. The Constitution of the United States grants me three human basic rights--- life, liberty, and finally the most essential, the pursuit of happiness. I intend on using these inalienable rights to fulfill my American Dream. I count it a privilege to live in a country where all doors of opportunity are open.