Not the movie, just my thoughts.For all those years of being in the U.S., I have met people from all world’s corners. While being an Arab, it was only natural that many of those I met were also Arabs. With many different reasons of immigrating to the west, and the U.S. in particular, a large portion of Arabs fails to achieve set goals for just as many reasons. I have decided to write on this topic due to recent news that a high-school friend of mine has gone through so many problems here in the states, which resulted in jail time and, at the moment, expecting deportation orders.
Coming to America shouldn’t be on the basis of stories we hear, it shouldn’t be due to movies we see, and it shouldn’t be as a response of an article we read. After all, there are ways of making life a lot better in our home country, as was portrayed in recent postings on this blog of successful Jordanians in Jordan…better enough to make immigrating the wrong choice.
After almost ten years in the U.S., I came to the conclusion that there are two goals dominating the rational of immigrating. These two goals could be pursued concurrently or subsequently, with the latter being preferred for best results. The goals are Education and Money.
Those who are still in Jordan, or have left during their adolescence, still remember stories of working in the States. They still remember or hear people talking about fulan who made a good amount of dollars and bought a house or two in Jordan or comes back every summer on a vacation to spend some of that money. The amount of money a person can make by working at a gas station, a restaurant, a grocery store, or as a cab driver (which are the dominating first jobs for young Arabs coming to the States) could be in the range of $6-$12 per hour. This figure, when translated into Dinars at current living costs in Jordan, is a lot of money. Even though living expenses in the U.S. are a lot higher than those of Jordan, the comparison never enters the calculations of a young, clueless Jordanian. Once they are here, they are hit with rent, bills, insurance and gas, and many other expenses that weren’t given any importance at the time of living at the parents’ house.
I am not saying that breaking even is the ultimate result. But, accumulating money in the U.S. has its ways. It is possible only if you pursue one of the two goals at a time.
Jobs for the willing are aplenty in the U.S. If one chooses the money route, then devotion must be directed at working as much as one can (as many hours) and save as much as could be saved, while minimizing splurges and following trends (to stay cool). In this situation, a person can accumulate in the vicinity of 20-30 thousand dollars a year. This money could be invested in Jordan or saved up to open up a business in the U.S., which, if run successfully, would be a way to double or triple initial investment within a few years. It isn’t that hard. Scores of grocery stores, coffee shops, liquor stores in the San Francisco bay area are owned by Arabs. But, at the same time, for the first few years, while accumulating that money, expect no life what so ever. Work and sleep would be the schedule.
The money option, minus the starting business part, is ideal for those on visiting visas (i.e. B1/B2), who are not sure about what way to become permanent residents or are overstaying and afraid to be deported at anytime.
The second option, education, is a better option in every way looked at in my personal opinion. Having experienced the first route myself, solidifying your education first should be of paramount priority to any other option. With education, no matter how little, the payoff is greater. Lets say starting a business is important to you. Educated people, most of the time, make better business decisions, are able to better negotiate prices, leases, and deal terms. Consequently, resulting in a far better outcome.
To be continued…