Fiji to San Francisco

photo of Suva, Fiji by Kyle Post

I realised that I have big dreams and I’m going to do anything it takes to reach those dreams and be successful in America.

It’s May 1994. I’m on a plane to America. I know this decision will change my entire life. Putting all my trust in my parents, I have decided to go with them to America. As I caught my last glimpse of Fiji, I knew this part of my life in Fiji has come to an end, but I want to someday come back and be able to show my kids where I grew up, my home, my school, my beach, my land, and my boat. Nakelo, the small village I grew up in will always have a special place in my heart. Other than leaving my village I am also leaving my eldest brother in Fiji. This broke my heart, but I knew we would see him soon. I know America is going to be different, I’m excited for this fresh start, but I’m more afraid of what the future holds. I was born in , the capital city of the Fijian Islands, in a small village named Nakelo and I have lived there for my entire life up till this point. Life in Fiji is not difficult, but there is no future there for me, I cannot fulfill my dreams of one day providing for my parents as they provided for me.

As I get off this plane, I notice that everything is so different. I am tired from this long flight, that stopped in Hawaii and Los Angeles and finally in San Francisco. Although I’m very drowsy, I can’t stop looking at the big planes and the biggest airport I have ever seen. At that moment I realised that I have big dreams and I’m going to do anything it takes to reach those dreams and be successful in America. Poverty, along with other factors stopped me from being able to become something in Fiji, but here I realised that my hard work would eventually payoff.

My sister and her husband pick my parents and me from the airport. On the ride to my sister’s home, I watch as my brother-in-law drives on a road, that’s nothing like I’ve ever seen before. There are green signs all over and this road has multiple lines it is very big, I am told that it is a highway. I remember in Fiji, we had one rocky road with many holes, for drivers coming and going. I am amazed, this road seems to go on forever and there are so many cars. My heart is racing throughout this whole car ride. We reach my sister’s house and now my heart is racing even more. As I enter her house I am yet again amazed, it feels like I am in a movie. Her house is spacious and decorated with furniture and pictures, things I had only seen in movies.

It’s now June 1994, I have started going to a job training school. It is free. Through their program I apply for a job at Intel Software Company. I am so excited that I have a job; now I am one step closer to my dream. I apply for another job as a security at Guardsmark, I also get accepted for this job. I knew that taking two jobs would not be easy, but I also knew that reaching my dream would be a challenge. I wake up every morning at 5 am, get dressed and go to Intel Software Company to route numbers and make checks, this was from 6:30 to 2:30 pm. Sometimes, I would drive 2 hours just to get to work as a security guard. Working two jobs a day for eight hours each sometimes left less than five hours of sleep. Adjusting to life in America seemed hard, but it wasn’t long till I started making friends from work and school. Even with little sleep, I would wake up excited to experience another day in America. Everyday I learned something new. Although, sometimes people would laugh at me for pronouncing words wrong or not being able to understand what was being said, going to school and work helped improve my English and knowledge of the American culture.

It’s my first Diwali in America, it doesn’t feel the same. Diwali is celebrated each year in late October or early November, it is the festival of lights. It is a celebration of light winning over darkness. Diwali in Fiji was like New Year’s or Christmas here, but even more. Decorative lights, firecrackers, sweets, and prayers all were apart of Diwali. Here in America there are no decorative lights or firecrackers, we stay home pray to God, eat sweets, and spend quality time with family. I’m missing Fiji more than ever now. Coming to America meant losing some parts of my culture, but I knew that if I worked hard I could one day go back and celebrate Diwali in Fiji. It’s December 1995 and it’s been a little over a year that I have a worked at Intel Software Company and now I am being laid off. The company is moving to a different state. Finding out I was being laid off made me feel miserable, I felt as if I was getting farther from my dreams. My parents tell me to not be disappointed, but see it as an opportunity to grow.

Taking their advice I use the money I saved from my jobs to pay for a Medical and Dental Assistant diploma. I have applied at a temporary job in the ER at Stanford Hospital, hopefully I can get this job. This is a well paying job and this job will open up more opportunities for me. 1996 was a big year for me, I got accepted to the temporary position in the ER and I also received my diploma for Medical and Dental Assistance. I bought a house for my parents and I to live in. I saved up money and my hard work payed off, I was able to be successful and I have realised that determination is the key to reach your dreams. I could have quit working two jobs but I would have not been able to buy this house.

Its 1997 and I have been moved to a position in Billing and Accounting in Stanford Hospital, I also stopped working as a security guard. Who knew that I would work in Billing and Accounting in Stanford Hospital for 20 years and counting! I also traveled back to Suva, Fiji and met the love of my life, but I didn’t know she was the one yet. I saw her at my cousin’s wedding, my cousin married her sister. Phone calls were made and letters were exchanged and we started to fall for each other. We were in a relationship for 2 years and that’s when I decided she was the one. I travelled to Fiji in 1999 and I married the woman of my life. Soon she came to America, started working and we lived happily together.

In August 2000, my first daughter was born. A little later, my parents moved into their own house. In July 2001, my second daughter was born. September 2006 my mother passed away. This being one of my saddest days in my life, I’m glad that I was able to be give my parents everything they wanted. I miss my mother everyday and I will always have a special place for her in my heart. I’m grateful that my mother was in America for her last days because in Fiji medical care was very terrible. Two years later, my son was born. Coming here and getting educated was the right decision, because now my children have a brighter future and they won’t have to work as hard to be successful.

This story was written by the subject’s daughter who attends Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, CA.

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