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Living the American Dream
Most Americans don’t know that the US government gives around 55k immigrant visas to the entire world so people can come legally and live the “American dream.” Out of millions and millions of people, randomly they select who can come to the country and can have a green card. Some countries like Brazil, Ecuador, Canada, China and others are not eligible anymore under the “DV Lottery Visa Program” because they have sent over 50,000 immigrants to the US in the previous five years. Back in 2008 Ecuador sent its last group of 217 immigrants. I was one of them.
That afternoon of November 27th of 2007 I couldn’t believe I was going to come to the United States of America. I was downtown Guayaquil, the biggest city in Ecuador, and I felt like I was dreaming. I tried for several years to come to America. I wanted to come on vacation with Andrea, one of my friends from college, to New York but our visas got denied. I tried coming through the Rotary Club, the Lions Club, EFY and several other programs for teenagers, but everything was too expensive.
“I got it! I got it!” was the first thing I told my mother, on the phone, when I left the Embassy. “My dreams will become true,” I thought for several days, but there were several concerns I had in mind. I thought, “where am I going to live?
I don’t speak English, how am I going to communicate? How am I going to find a job?” It was a risk and an adventure that I wanted to take in order to find a better future.
While I was so excited to come to the United States and start a new life, I had some other things going on in my life at that time. I was serving a full-time mission for the LDS church and I didn’t want to leave it just half way through because of my experience with my studies. I went on a mission two semesters before getting my Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and because the US government told me that I only had six months to enter the country, I couldn’t finish my studies. I expected to transfer my credits to a US-based university but that didn’t work.
If you have the chance to move to a better place and make your dreams come true, would you do it? I think you would. That’s the only thing that was in my mind. Even though I was the only person in my family to get a green card, things were a little difficult. The green card was not free. On the letter I received from the government said that this was going to cost around $1,500 non-refundable. Even if I paid, it was not guaranteed that I would get a visa. I bet you agree with me on the fact that no one is on the position to “gamble” $1,500 and lose them with a simple “no.” But at the end I got it.
Back in 2005 my family and I heard about this program called “Lottery Visa” we applied online but nothing happened. One year later in October 2006 I was over the age limit to apply with my family so I applied by myself. During this time I was in my junior year of college seeking a degree in Journalism. I was also a radio DJ for “CC Radio 98.9FM”. Here, I had a live show every week called “Cool Music”; it was a show with only English music because I was one of the few who knew the pronunciation of the words in English. I was also a reporter for “Revista Panorama” (a magazine) where I was the one in charge to write articles and along with Monica we wrote almost everything on it, except the ads.
My name was recognized by people in the city, I had contacts with artists, actors, politicians and public figures. I even used to get VIP passes for concerts and other activities. But I decided to leave everything behind in order to serve a mission; a mission that, at one point or another, I think changed the course of my life.
February 22nd, 2007 I was flying to the Missionary Training Center in Bogota, Colombia. It was the first time in my life I was leaving Ecuador. I was excited for a new experience. It was also the first time I was leaving my family and I never thought that I would never live with them again.
March 13th, 2007 I returned to Quito to start my mission, I was working hard, teaching the gospel, meeting new people every day, reading scriptures, and adapting myself to a new style of life. The last week of my first transfer, my sister sent me an email indicating that a package from the US Government arrived and it was on its way to my new address. She did give me some details about the information on the letter and I could not believe what was happening. I couldn’t believe that my name was being selected over millions and millions of people that apply for this “lottery.”
I got the package, the letter, forms, and more paperwork. This one was coming from Kansas, MO. The instructions said that I needed to fill out all the forms and send them back to Missouri. I did it and I also changed my address, so any further communication would come to my new location. I kept continuing working, teaching and meeting new people. Four months later, another communication from the US government was sent to me. This one said: “Congratulations Ober, you do qualify for an immigrant visa!”
Never in my life have I experienced so much happiness. My dream was about to become true. “Ober, you have an interview with your local US Consulate on November 27th, 2007” I had to get some physical and health exams. Thanks goodness everything was OK. The day of the interview I flew from Quito to Guayaquil. I was nervous, anxious and the night before I didn’t even sleep. I was praying that everything would be on my favor.
It was around 9:45 am on that Tuesday 27th, 2007 when I entered into the consulate. Seeing people crying because their visa got denied was devastating, but I still had hope. The first announcement on the speakers “Ober Delgado please window number two.” They checked paperwork, my sponsor’s taxes, my criminal record, my diplomas, certifications and more. One hour later “Ober Delgado please window number one.” This time I was given a ticket to go to the cashier and pay almost $1,000. I went to the cashier thinking what the letter said “After paying this amount, it is still not guaranteed that you will get a visa and the money is non-refundable.” How I suffered, that moment it was all or nothing. I paid and came with the receipt to window number one. One hour later they said “Please take a one hour break and return to your seats.”
Five hours went by waiting to speak to the person who was going to interview me. After the break, it took them ten minutes to call me. “Ober Delgado please window number five.” This was the moment. I opened the blue curtain and the first thing I saw was this lady, twenty eight or twenty nine years old. She was typing on the computer and I said “Hi.” she replied with the same word “Hi” and made a double take. She went over my application and asked me “So… you’re a missionary for the LDS church” and I said “yes” after my answer she started laughing for about 30 seconds. The situation became awkward and I asked “why are you laughing?” she immediately answered “because I was like you, wearing the same name tag in Poland” two minutes later she grabbed a form and said “here, have fun in the US.”
I expected those words and that moment for so many years and finally I was able to come to the US. Mr. Lovingier, the one that helped me with my paperwork and at the end was my sponsor, and whom I love like a father, was very excited. He knew I didn’t have a place stay in the U.S. and once I told him “I got the visa” he said to me “Don’t worry about housing. I talked to my daughter, who is staying at my house in California with her family, and they are going to host you, for the time you need.”
What a blessing! “What destiny does the Lord have for me?” I thought. Mr. and Mrs. Lovingier have been, after my parents, the greatest influence in my life. Nowadays, even though I don’t live with them, we keep in touch. Every time I call them they say to me “Mi hijo!” which in English means “my son.”
I have lived in the United States of America since March 12th 2008 and it has not been easy. I live by myself with little or no support from anybody. My parents live in a third world country and struggling with the economy. During these years I have worked as a full time employee and going to school full time as well. Now, after all the trials I had to go through, I came to the conclusion that it’s OK to have dreams. That if we seek the way, they will become true and that, there will always be people, or like I call them “angels” to help us.
Hoping that I could transfer some of my 110 credits from Ecuador to a college or university here in the states was the worst thing. Absolutely nothing was transferred. I had to start from scratch. May 3rd of 2012 I got my Associates Degree from Salt Lake Community College. I’m not gonna lie, it was very frustrating having to go over classes that I took 10 years ago, in high school.
I’m currently (Winter 2013) a junior at Brigham Young University – Idaho studying Communications with an emphasis in Public Relations. I hope after graduation I can get a good job. This year I’m getting my citizenship and I will submit paperwork in order to bring my parents over.
So far I can say that I love America and I love its people.
9 Comments Add yours
Ober, I love this! You capture so fully the visa experience and the coming to America that most people will go through.
Keep moving up my friend. You have many friends that support you fully!
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