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Archived from our former blog, The Beacon.

One Woman’s Path to Citizenship: Bangladesh to the United States

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As an employee of the United Nations, Nashmeen’s father Mohammed had settled the family in Japan, Iran, and Sudan. While in Khartoum, her parents sent her to India to attend boarding school. A native of Bangladesh, she had spent her early years traveling the world and experiencing different cultures. While a young teenager, her mother applied for the Green Card Diversity Visa. To the surprise of all, they received a thick envelope confirming they would be granted a Green Card to live in the United States.

For Nashmeen, the Green Card presented her the opportunity to pursue her education in the United States. She felt fortunate that she had received this chance, knowing that some friends had filled out applications for student visas without success.

Nashmeen with her parents and husband Faraz

Above: Nashmeen with her parents and husband Faraz

By the time she arrived in the United States, Nashmeen had met many Americans and studied from American books. Still, she had to learn to live on her own at her university in Boston and didn’t always understand the local humor or why nickels were larger than dimes. Despite those small changes, she found Americans to be welcoming and the transition to be an easy one.

After graduating, Nashmeen knew that she wanted to stay in America, find work and spend the rest of her life in this country. The next logical step was to become a U.S. citizen and to embrace both its benefits and responsibilities. Nashmeen’s brother had already become a citizen, and now it was her turn. A college friend helped her apply and prepare for the naturalization test and interview.

Nashmeen did have one apprehension as she moved forward. In the wake of 9-11, she was nervous that being Muslim might have some adverse impact on her application. By coincidence, the USCIS officer interviewing her was also Muslim. As the test progressed, she realized that to become a citizen, she would be judged on her knowledge or civics, English and U.S. history, not on her religion, race or country of origin.

Nashmeen passed the test and took the Oath of Allegiance with great pride. Today she is married and living and working happily in the United States. Both her father and mother also became citizens of the United States. In this month that we commemorate Asian heritage, Nashmeen and her family’s journey to citizenship reminds us of the journeys of millions of Asian-Americans who have come to the United States in search of greater opportunity.