Believing in the American Dream


Ashley Han | Special to The Union

In 2016, my life changed completely when my mom and dad decided to immigrate to the United States and start a new life from the beginning.

My perspective of life has changed because of this nation, enabling every citizen to push forward and keep going until they have achieved success. The “American Dream” is real.

My homeland of Brazil is overflowing with happiness from its inhabitants. Brazilians may encounter different struggles, but generally, people there tend to have the motivation to keep going and moving forward with their lives.

My mom and dad reached their lowest points financially during Brazil’s economic crisis of 2016.

According to data from The World Bank, Brazil saw an expected decrease in Gross Domestic Product due to the World Cup events hosted in 2014.

However, from 2014 to 2015, it had a radical decrease of -3.5% in Gross Domestic Product, which hit Brazilian’s record at the time and resulted in a significant loss of consumer purchasing power in the nation.

Data provided by The World Bank shows Brazil’s Gross Domestic Product history from 1994 to 2017, since the Plano Real (Real Plan) implementation, having its worst years in 2015 and 2016, thus developing its crisis.

My dad was offered a job near the end of Brazil’s economic crisis but faced a new reality in a different country. Minding a fresh start, he accepted the offer apprehensively.

Igor Colonno (middle) visits a Zoo with his sister Rayza Colonno (left) and his aunt Catarina Riogoletto (left) in São Paulo, Brazil in 2008, eight years before moving to the Unites States of America. Photo courtesy of Igor Colonno.

As a young man, I was afraid I couldn’t adapt to a new language, culture, and environment. Not knowing much about the world was one of my biggest challenges.

“America, a country where freedom walks side to side with joy and hope,” my mom said to ease my anxiety during tough times. If only I had known what she meant six years ago.

Upon arrival, my dad’s job offer did not pan out as expected and there was only one option: to leave and return to Brazil.

However, giving up was never in consideration for my mom.

Living alone in this new country’s empty surroundings, my sister and I had to learn English to help my mom and dad. The task was not easy, and I often felt like it was too much pressure that I couldn’t handle.

The pressure I felt came not only from home but from school as well. I was bullied for not knowing how to speak English properly.

Every day I felt worse and worse and cried whenever my mom picked me up from school. I often refused to talk to classmates to hide my frustration from others.

My mom gave me new advice and told me to find other students who may find themselves in a similar situation as me.

I thought my mom was wrong because I could not imagine that there could be students going through the same thing as I did.

I was wrong.

I found a group of immigrants who struggled to speak English. We all started talking and growing with each other. We became friends, and I felt comfortable knowing there were people in a similar situation as me.

This immigrant group allowed me to overcome my fear of talking to students at school. I became more sociable, finally showing my true self, and I was not scared of the bullies. I evolved due to my hard work.

Knowing how to speak proper English now, I could finally help my parents get better jobs. They worked 12 hours a day in a restaurant to keep their dream alive of my sister and me finding success in America.

After spending six months in America, I could already see and understand that this nation was a nation of possibilities and opportunities. To achieve your goal, one needs to put in the work simply.

Six years later, everything I have achieved is due to the hard work and time invested for a more prosperous future, especially for my family, who have deeply dedicated their life to me.

A life that included: fluently speaking English, attending college and soon transferring to a university.

As a citizen of the United States, I have to thank this nation for allowing me to become a person who now has prospects in life and to believe in myself enough to get anything I want as long as I work hard enough to accomplish that goal.

I couldn’t understand the “American Dream” six years ago, but now I completely acknowledge and understand it.


Editor’s Notes:

  • Added feature photo on Nov. 5, 2022 at 4:47 p.m.
  • Replaced feature photo on Dec. 14, 2022, at 2:56 p.m.