Written by Pascalyn Omotosho 

Immigrating from my home country of Nigeria to America, “the land of the Free”, has been a life-changing experience. The tears, hugs, and sacrifices that were made the day my Parents decided to explore a different path and selflessly offer us the best gift we could ever ask for: the opportunity to make our choices. While the relocation to America was filled with emotions of excitement, it was also accompanied by countless thoughts and questions. Like how would I fit in at school? What’s the food like? Are they going to be kind? And more.

For decades, it’s always been a dream of my mother’s to live in America, so the flight taken that day, didn’t just change our lives but was the beginning of a dream becoming a reality. As I resonate on my home country and the African American history in America, I can see the struggles overcome by the brave people I call my ancestors, it takes a great deal of love to endure the pain and challenges they went through to create the place we call “America” today. In the times I struggled with finding myself and balancing my new American life and Nigerian identity, I feel grateful to have an option and to have this unique experience that my Parents have given me. This fuels my hard work and desire to give back.

When I wake up each morning, looking through the glass and admiring the beauty of NYC, I feel a sense of gratitude for the chance to be here, because I think of my classmates from Nigeria and the dreams they have. I hope to return and assist people in bringing their dreams to life.

I can begin to see a clearer vision, as I call America my second home, with my friends from diverse backgrounds. I know one thing for sure, my parents brought me here to see what the light in people can do with just the right amount of pressure, and to give my siblings and I a chance to rewrite our stories.

Despite the differences between America and Nigeria, I have been able to navigate my new life and I am still in the process, but I have a better knowledge of what that life looks like, including my cultures and values. I still miss home but where we decide to call home is also the place that accepts us and welcomes us just like America has done for my family.

I’ll leave you with this, everyone has something priceless in them, and have the key to unlock it. After much anticipation, the power to choose what to do with your gift will be your choice alone. Hopefully you stand on the side of peace. Whatever it is you think, it may seem big or small that you have a passion for, pursue it and become the best at it. That is truly the one thing you have control over; how much you put into something because you believe in it. And when you reach the top of the ladder, help others, as Denzel Washington would say “Each one, teach one”.  

One To World brings local residents together with international students and Fulbright grantees, creating face-to-face experiences to foster intercultural understanding and build relationships that last a lifetime.  Annually, it provides over 100 programs for the more than 90,000 international students and Fulbright grantees who study at New York-area institutions. One To World engages these young global leaders representing more than 140 countries in American life, building cooperation, and respect among people from around the world.

One To World is designated by the U.S. Department of State as the official Coordinator of Enrichment Programs for the 800+ visiting Fulbright grantees in the New York area each year. When the late Senator J. William Fulbright authored legislation to create the Fulbright program over 75 years ago, he specified these enrichment programs as key components of it. He believed that the time Fulbright grantees spent off-campus would be as important as their academic studies in fostering cultural understanding and ultimately, a more peaceful world.

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