There have many occasions in my life I consider very special. It seems that although many events happened long ago, the clarity of them all remains fresh in my memory. I will remember them the rest of my life, but the event that I cherish the most is the day I moved from the Lagos, in South East Nigeria, to the United States. It was January, 2009 and a nice day. I had packed up all my belongings and was so excited about moving to America. I thought about all the successes I had had in Africa. I had received my Associates degree in Special Education from the University of lagos, in the South West of Nigeria.
I had achieved a level I never thought possible by making my childhood dreams come true. I was active and life was good, but I wanted the opportunity to better myself by continuing my education in America. I had been praying for the many years to move to the United State and that dream became a reality in 2002. I had filed for a green card and was praying for a miracle when in 2003 God answered my many prayers. I received mail at my family home in Jos, Nigeria. I was so ecstatic when I opened the letter and saw that I had received my green card that I let loose and jump up and danced with excitement!!!
I excitedly told my family about my plans to move to America and knew they were truly excited about me living a successful life and settling down in there. My heart had longed to move to there for so long. So I planned the trip from Kaduna, in Northern Nigeria to go to Lagos in August of the next year. Monday afternoon I received an email from my Aunt Florence who was living in America. It was confirmed, she had made the travel arrangements for me. The flight ticket was ready to be picking up at the airport in Lagos. I was finally going to see how amazing it was going to be to get to travel to another continent, thousands of miles away.
My trip was set, I’d done everything I could and now I was open up to the universe. I heard it clearly say, “You have let go and have the courage to move forward! ” My dear parents were both deceased and my many siblings had gone off to Europe and around the globe to start their adult lives and I didn’t have much to stay here for. Mom always use to say, “Go off and make the most of your God given talents. ” So that’s what I was getting ready to do! I had family and friends in America who could give me advice and help me pursue my dreams. I was moving to stay with my cousin and his mom and dad.
I recall him telling me with such enthusiasm “You will love it here in New York and you will be able to work and go to college here! We all can’t wait for you to arrive! ” John was more like a brother than a cousin because we were the same age and grew up together. On their family trips to Nigeria we were inseparable. I was overjoyed and couldn’t wait, but I recall how nervous I was to start a new phase of my life in a different country so far from home. For now I had to think of the trip to Lagos, which was going to be almost as long and nerve racking as my flight to America. I would first have to travel six hours to Lagos.
Then, once there, I would have to go to the American Embassy to pick up my green card visa. After dealing with all the red tape, I would go to the airport to wait for my 14 hour flight to my final destination, New York!!! My move to the USA and all my dreams were finally going to become a reality. I was also excitedly anticipating meeting new people and making friends. I could hardly wait to begin working, going to college, and just learning all about American culture. I wondered about the people, fashions, and all the American food I would eat and wondered whether I would like it.
As I sat in the plane, my mind raced with so many thoughts of my future in America, “The land of opportunity. ” It was all so surreal and I really felt as if I were in a dream. Finally, after the long flight we were landing at New York Airport! As I looked out the window my stomach was turning and churning with anticipation at being here in the USA and to be able to live with my relatives. It seemed like an eternity getting off the plane and getting through customs, but once it was behind me and I saw my Cousin’s smiling face, all the fear and uncertainty melted away.
We hugged and using the little sign language that he remembered, we communicated in the car all the way home. Now I was even more excited to see my uncle, my cousin and her girls. I was so filled with happiness, I could hardly contain myself! When we finally got there, they were all waiting. We hugged and kissed and they had a great African meal waiting for me. We prayed and broke bread together for we all knew it was a blessing that I was here in America with my family. That is a day that I will always remember as long as I live!
Soon I got acclimated to life in the USA and began assimilating to American culture. I was truly shocked at how quickly I began to achieve all I desired. I found a job and began saving my money. I was living in a beautiful the home with my family. Within two months, I met an incredible group of deaf friends in the deaf church who I had a lot in common with. We all made the most out of life; I learned to communicate in America Sign Language; went to Deaf Coffee Houses and Deaf Clubs to meet a more friends; and I bought my home outright.
I believe I accomplished all this because I placed my list of dreams in plain sight and made it my primary focus. I followed the rule of white-water kayaking; once you’re in the rapids, never stop paddling. Sometimes I felt that the water was moving too fast but I never fought the current because I refused to let it pull me under. I know that a lifelong journey may be rough sometimes but I am always up for the challenge and will always remember my mother’s words, “Believe in God first and then believe in yourself my child! You can fulfill your every dream if you always keep your faith! ”