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A Different Homeland

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A Different Homeland

The pie chart shows the origins of the millions of undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.  Immigration has declined since 9/11 but has stabilized in the past few years.

The pie chart shows the origins of the millions of undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. Immigration has declined since 9/11 but has stabilized in the past few years.

The pie chart shows the origins of the millions of undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. Immigration has declined since 9/11 but has stabilized in the past few years.

The pie chart shows the origins of the millions of undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. Immigration has declined since 9/11 but has stabilized in the past few years.

Binta Patel, Guest Writer

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My grandfather stares out of the window as we wait for the doctor to help us. His eyes begin to water, and I watch as he carefully removes his glasses and wipes his eyes with the sleeve of his brand-new shirt from India. The doctor walks in, and my grandfather greets him and attempts to tell him about his problems. He explains his pain to the doctor without a problem; however, he has trouble understanding the treatment the doctor offers. He looks over to me for help, and I jump in.

My grandfather is just one of the many examples of individuals from other countries who have difficulty assimilating with the American culture. To this day, he does not understand the craze for cheeseburgers, fries, and soda.

“I just don’t get it,” he said. “Soda is just water and so much sugar mixed together.”

Whether it may be for financial reasons or to escape from injustice, immigrants come from all over the world. Many of these immigrants have trouble adjusting to foreign ways. They come to a different country that speaks a different language, has different food, and different types of people.

According to the Pew Research Center, there are about 11.7 immigrants living in the United States currently. That is about a 222 percent increase from 1990 when there were about 3.5 million. A recent study performed by the Pew Research Center found that immigration has indeed stabilized in the recent years after the drastic decrease after 9/11.

“When I first came here, I did not know anything,” my grandfather said. “I was amazed by the big signs and the highways and the greenery.”

My grandfather comes from a small town in India, where he used to help his father plant and harvest crops. He also herded cattle. Now, he goes to see his son at his business every day, and attends to the small garden that he has in his backyard.

“It is so different here,” he said. “I miss India, but I also like America because of the opportunities available here.”

When my grandfather first came to the U.S. in 1988, America was the country that everyone wanted to be in. People in his town could only dream of going to America.

On the day after he arrived, a relative took him to his business, and attempted to teach my grandfather to work. From the same week, he started to work.

“I didn’t understand what people were saying, so I helped cook in the kitchen of a restaurant,” he said. “I also didn’t know of the different kinds of foods available here.”

He recounts a story about how he used strawberries instead of raspberries one time and the customer could not tell the difference. One of his co-workers later tasted the milkshake and could tell immediately that he had used the wrong fruit.

He worked two jobs, for a total of 13 hours a day, seven days a week. He continued to work until he was able to get a business himself with his two sons in 1999.

“It was a proud moment for all of us,” his son, Andy Patel said. “My father has worked really hard to accomplish what he has today.”

He is now retired, and still spends about half of his day at the business; however, he still misses India.

“It is my homeland and I can never forget the essence of it,” my grandmother said to me in Gujarati.

My grandparents currently spend half of the year in India and the other half in America. They are excited to take gifts for their family members who still reside in India, and for them to try the variety of foods found here in the U.S

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A Different Homeland