It is one of the most hotly-debated political topics of the modern age. While the U.S. can continue to take pride in its democratic institutions, free-market economy and basic civil liberties, many, today, feel the vision of the Founding Fathers is beginning to wane. It seems as though, every day, we hear more and more stories of people working multiple jobs just to pay the rent. Despite their hard efforts, news stories of citizens becoming homeless and ending up on the street find their way into daily headlines. The economic meltdown of 2008 and the recent debates over minimum wage have renewed interest on this topic as well. When focusing on the negatives, one can easily conclude that the American Dream is on its last leg. I would contest that conclusion, however, as a child of immigrants, I have been given a renewed sense of optimism for our country and our future. The American Dream is far from dead, and it is perhaps best illustrated with the story of my immigrant mother, Yolanda.
Imagine living in Cuba during the early 1990s. The Soviet Union, the island nation’s primary economic partner, drowns under the tides of global democratic revolutions. In an already poverty-stricken nation, rationing becomes even tighter, power blackouts begin to occur for hours on end on a diurnal basis and people are being brutally beaten on the streets for openly complaining about the situation. The future begins to look bleaker every day. If you were my mother, your hope in life had been flat-lined well before this point. Growing up with little money and pittances of food, Yolanda became used to living on absolute necessity. Her own father spent six years in jail, simply for helping desperate people who needed more food rations than the government permitted them to have. Her dreams of becoming a journalist were quashed when the university of her choice prevented her from pursuing her studies. They knew about her Catholic faith and believed she would not be subservient to the Communist Party in her reporting. With such a depressing past behind her and an uncertain future on her horizon, Yolanda began to realize there was no other choice but to flee the nation.
She finally took a rare opportunity to leave in December 1992, and on the day of Bill Clinton’s inauguration as president in 1993, she stepped foot on American soil for the first time. For our family, the rest is history. Unlike at home, Yolanda never went hungry or had to settle for eating one meal a day. The U.S. government never told her how much food she was allowed to have. She had the right to pursue whatever career she wanted, regardless of her faith or perceived anti-government stances. With hard work and perseverance, my mother was intent on making something of her life. In the matter of just two decades, she did just that; Yolanda went from a homeless refugee to a successful businesswoman who could raise an entire household by herself.
Hardships were not absent from Yolanda’s journey, however. When she came to Texas, she had no family to live with. She had to work multiple jobs while tending to her studies at the same time. She was laid off from her job mere days before she gave birth to me. But even through her trials and tribulations, the American Dream stayed alive. A family in Laredo was gracious enough to house her when she first arrived in the states until she got on her feet.
Working multiple jobs gave her experience in the American workforce. And not only was she able to secure another job rather quickly after she was first laid off, but her employment would survive the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression.
My mother’s story is the quintessential story of the American Dream coming to fruition. She began as low as one could possibly begin, and today she’s living the life that many people around the world can only dream of. Her work ethic and willingness to endure life’s pains set the stage for her success, and our great country gave her all the tools she needed to thrive. Her tale has stood the test of time and refutes those who have already written the eulogies of the American Dream. Her life’s voyage has proved that our country’s dream continues to burn passionately in the hearts of all Americans; whether we want to acknowledge it is up to us.
By Leonardo Quevedo
Over the last millennia, people have yearned to have prosperity and success. In one way or another, many individuals would go to extensive lengths to see that dream come into fruition. The American Dream was this dream many found would fulfill this lasting desire. The American Dream is the founding ideology of our grand country, inspiring an era of hope and freedom within the lives of those living within the country and those looking upon it in aspiration. The dream is beguiling, drawing in multitudes of individuals, yearning to engender a new destiny for themselves. As the years have passed, the American Dream has disseminated across the globe, infatuating many with the idea of attaining a new life immersed in success and prosperity. However, some people have voiced the difficulty to attain this “dream,” saying how many still find themselves in poverty, barely holding on to hope. Although it may seem to some as if the American Dream is unreachable, it is still very much alive, alluring others into pursuing hope, freedom and prosperity.
This American Dream is in existence, as it was the very reason for countless immigrants, such as my family, to immigrate to America. Being from Southern India, the opportunities present for my family there were not as extensive when compared to other countries, especially America. During the late 1960s, jobs were very limited, with not as much income when compared to other countries. Many people had to make a living from agrarian work, tending to farmland and crops, which was not fulfilling to many living in Southern India. Hearing of the prosperity and successes of those living in America, my grandparents decided to move there, wanting to raise a family in the “land of the free.” Infatuated by the idea of starting a grand new life in America, my grandparents moved to Chicago, Ill. The journey they embarked on was not an easy one, as finding jobs was challenging, being new immigrants in a foreign land. However, they held on to hope and to the idea of gaining the prosperity and success that America promised for many years, driving them to eventually gain very stable and well-paying jobs. This allowed my grandparents to gain the success and prosperity they desired all those years ago. This perfectly elucidates the misconception of the dream’s death, enunciating that the dream is indeed alive, as it is the drive of immigration. It is because of this dream I am here in America, experiencing what it truly means to have freedom and success, as well as having hope for a better future. If the American Dream had died, I would have never experienced the same luxuries and privileges citizens in America experience. I would have probably grown up in India, having to face the many drawbacks it had presented to my grandparents.
Statistically speaking, all the facts point to the American Dream being quite alive, active in the majority of the population. According to the Migration Policy Institute, the immigration population rate in America has increased significantly, increasing from four percent in 1970 to 13 percent as of 2013. Just in a matter of 43 years, the population of immigrants in the U.S. increased by nine percent, revealing and further proving the American Dream is still alive, as it is driving more foreigners to come to the country and experience the freedoms it has to offer. It does not stop here, as according to the Pew Research Center, 84 percent of Americans have gained more income when compared to their parents’ generation. This major discrepancy between the income of the current generation and preceding generation expresses how much more prosperous the younger generations are becoming, as many individuals of the younger generation are yearning to attain their dreams, doing what they enjoy and finding a way to make a sustainable living out of it. With these irrefutable points, it can clearly be seen that the American Dream is not a myth, but rather a force driving countless lives towards their aspirations.
The American Dream has been an impelling force for people for countless decades, begetting the motivation to attain their desires and dreams in hopes of a brighter future. With multitudes of people clinging to this indelible ideology, its demise seems far from reach. Every aspiration for freedom, hope, success and prosperity makes the dream more desirable, being sought after by people in our country, appealing to those scattered across the globe, as well. It can clearly be seen that the American Dream will continue to live on, motivating many people in today’s day and age to work toward their dreams, holding on to the hopes and freedoms that are so freely offered by our country.
2018 has been one of the most controversial years in our history. Both good and bad things have happened in America in 2018, but should we forfeit our belief system because of change? Although there are those who believe the American Dream is dead, there is still hope for our generation because of the drive and work ethic of young teens in America.
Most of my friends in school are completely focused on school and what they want in life. Some of my friends are smarter than others, and some have to work harder in order to get the results they want in school. Leadership Prep School is teaching us how to be leaders using the project based learning model. This model prepares us for the situations we will be faced with in the real world, such as difficult co-workers, stress, deadlines and tough decisions. When we graduate from high school, we will be ready for whatever the world has to throw at us.
The definition of the American Dream is that every U.S. citizen should have an equal opportunity to achieve success and prosperity through hard work, determination and initiative. Responsibility falls right into place with what the American Dream means. Our school gives us a chance to exemplify responsibility in a professional setting.
Along with responsibility comes self-motivation and a drive to get things done. The American Dream is all about getting things done. Parents, nowadays, are teaching their children how to use their time wisely in order to be successful in life. It is not only the parent’s job to teach their kids about proper values — students need to take responsibility for how they use their time. Developing good study habits now will help you in the long run.
In conclusion, the American Dream is not dead because of the potential our generation has if we choose to use it. Responsibility, great work ethic, determination and a good attitude are the building blocks of the American Dream, and if you can obtain these, the American Dream is within grasp.
By Dylan Kopplow