Sunday, May 2, 2010

Real life American Dream

At dinner last week with my friend V, I was discussing my remaining school obligations and assignments as I counted down the last few weeks of school. By this point, time was running out, and I was seriously desperate for more blog ideas. Apparently I have a knack for walking into American Dream stories, as I had on the radio before. At dinner that night, I found a real life example of the American Dream story where I least expected to. After hearing about my blog assignment, my friend V described her parents’ emigration from Russia. After arriving in America, they had to start from nothing, a typical rags to riches story. Her father, despite having a medical doctor degree back in the old country, had to attend medical school all over again, as the certifications and degrees didn’t translate in the United States. Hardships abounded: a completely certified physician in another country was forced under the circumstances to pay his way through medical school for a second time, working minimum wage jobs at Au Bon Pain and the grocery store. They were always low on money, and had to make do with cramped living conditions. Now, he is in the highest tax bracket, has that big suburban house, the typical American Dream etc. and “can complain about Obama’s policies.”
This caused us to speculate on how drastically different her parents’ American Dream was from her/our own. V expressed her anxiety about finding the right major, uncertainty about the future, careers, life in general, and the worry that there would be no way to achieve that future. Finding internships was so difficult now, and even getting into a top-notch college had been a nightmare. Would we even make it to the point in the future where we would be anywhere near success and the American Dream?
Upon comparison, the two American Dreams were so different. Her parents’ seemed straight out of a storybook, or at least a feature story in the newspaper. Their hardships were tenfold more difficult than ours, in our opinion, and despite all the pessimism, we don’t think the American Dream has really died. Maybe more young people are competing for the same thing, or maybe we really are lazier and not as hard working and motivated compared to our preceding generation. The American Dream is alive and well, but might the people our age be lacking?

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