Sunday, May 24, 2009

Update: Dreams in Decline

It's hard to believe that a year and a half has passed since I first started this blog. So much, but so little, has happened in that period of time, so here's a summary of events.

  1. Fall 2005 was my senior year in high school, and things were going relatively well. I had a strong academics background and was planning on appyling to great schools, most of which were out of state. During Thanksgiving, while filling out college applications, I came across a common Dreamie problem (before I knew I was a Dreamie): I was neither a citizen nor a permanent resident nor an international student, so what box was I to check? Immigration was never really discussed in our family, and so all I knew and what I told people, was that our status was "pending," which was tecnhincally true. Hurricanes Rita and Katrina hit, resulting in a horrible 3 hour drive that should have taken 15 minutes. New Orleans is underwater and Houston opens its arms.
  2. Spring 2006 was my last semester as a high school student, and also my hardest semester. I applied to state schools once I found out about HB 1403 in Texas and got in. A medical problem at the beginning of the semester forced me to miss a lot of school, to the point where I was at risk of not graduating. There were MRIs, neurological consults, and numerous prescriptions to deal with. Once that died down, another problem arose: Our petition that had been pending all this time was denied. I began looking into international university options, but my immigration status here, or lack thereof, made the transition seem very difficult, if not impossible. My calculus teacher sang the "O Canada" song to me to cheer me up, but it only makes me sad thinking about it now. Multiple visits to our high school's Career Center made me realize how many scholarhsips I qualified for but could not apply for b/c of my status. I had to downgrade my dreams, but we settled on me staying in the city so I could live at home and still go to school. I did receive an Academic Excellence scholarship for about half of my costs, so I was grateful. I graduated from high school in the top 1% of my class, something I'm prouder of now than I think I was then.
  3. Summer 2006: We received a Notice to Appear in immigration court because our petition had been denied and we had overstayed our visas waiting for the petition result. This was the first summer of uncertainty, the first of many. Because of an influx of Hurricane Katrina victims, our apartment complex informed us that we'd have to move out. The apartment complex down the street we planned to move into had a mix-up, and there was a month delay. We had nowhere to stay, so we moved our stuff into storage and used a $1,500 local scholarship I'd received to pay for a motel and food for a month. When I wasn't working, I googled all summer, learning the ins and outs of the immigration court system. This is also the summer I learned about the DREAM Act and joined DAP. I remember my elation at having found other people who related to what I was going through, and how close I am to some of those people to this day. This was also I think our first time in court: an unassuming little brick building in a nice neighborhood downtown. The building that changed lives.
  4. Fall 2006: My first time in college. My first time commuting an hour each way in one of the largest cities in the U.S. My first time holding down 2 jobs while attending school full time. The first time, and last time I believe, in my life I got a C in a class, English of all things. The first, and last, time that my GPA was lower than the 3.5 needed to make the Dean's list. Nightmares about immigration and ICE. The time I think I slowly began to unravel, slowly began to lose my grip. Another court date, another continuance.
  5. Spring 2007: More of the same. Panic attacks. Quit one job because I was so worn out. Decided I wanted to be a math major. The Freshman 15 is no joke.
  6. Summer 2007: More work. A in Calculus III. Another court date somewhere in here. 
  7. Fall 2007: Math major getting increasingly difficult. Another court date. Sucky lawyer takes over our case. The sad demise of the DREAM Act. Papa Durbin. Decided to be a double major in Math and Finance. Finally reached 5'2". 
  8. Spring 2008: Intermediate Macroeconomics inspired me to major in Economics. Dreamed I could actually triple-major for a second. Bad thing #1 happened - back on medication for a while. Doctors find a para-spinal cyst in an X-ray of my little sister. 
  9. Summer 2008: Surgeon consultations for the cyst. Options seem to be either going in with a scope or a full opening of her chest cavity. Our pediatrician doesn't think she'll survive a full chest surgery, so scope it is. 
  10. Fall 2008: New most horrible semester. One week before the semester begins, the school revokes my academic scholarship, ex post facto, b/c of a new policy of only offering scholarships to citizens and permanent residents. Instead of being rewarded for hard work, I was being punished for lack of a piece of paper. Bad thing #2 happens and I'm lucky to be alive. A week later, my sister has surgery and the cyst is removed. A few days later, complications arise and she's sent to Pediatric Intensive Care and put on a ventilator. Hard to deal with - her chest tube, the machine that's breathing for her, the pain she's in, and all the other families with sick kids in the waiting room. A little more than a week later and she's thankfully breathing on her own, and eventually we get to go home. Hurricane Ike and our city is hurting, but eventually pulls through. Galveston is devastated; almost entirely wiped out. 
  11. Spring 2009: Most challenging semester yet academically. Maybe I want a Ph.D. in Economics. I join a club and let myself stop worrying so much about immigration. I even semi-make some friends. Boy crush...or two...or three. Start tutoring. Feel for the first time that the world is my oyster. Hope to study abroad in New Zealand. Court in April - we feel so close but the immigration lawyer reveals she intends to reserve appeal if the judge sides with us. ICE pays visit to people involved in our case in May. Sucky lawyer is uncooperative, and new lawyers cost thousands of dollars. Still hoping to find a job this summer, but immigration is eating up all of our money. Court next Wednesday, May 27th. The world is no longer my oyster. No longer feels as if this too shall pass.