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Laugh at the immigrant, think again.

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How often have we heard the phrase, "I came to America in search of a better life" from immigrants? In fact, the global consensus is that America (the United States) is the land of opportunity. Better yet, a country where you can start at zero, meaning financially poor, not of the dominate race or class, and low education even, yet still find means to obtain success by being a hard worker and going after the "American Dream" of prosperity. This is the premise for most foreigner people that leave their home country and become American immigrants.

Yes of course, every immigrant (legal or illegal) that comes to America won't find life easy and the street paved with gold. Funny even saying that because o­ne of my Nigerian friends told me that before he came to America in the 80's, he actually thought that there were public streets paved of gold in the United States. He can't be entirely faulted, that's what he was told! What he realized after arriving in the U.S., just as with most immigrates, is that the streets of America are not paved with gold, nor is it certain that he would achieve the American dream of prosperity in his lifetime. Yet still, there are opportunities that exist in the States that don't exist in his home country. Therefore, he's willing to take advantage of what he can get while building o­n his income, transferable skills, and network base while taking small steps up the ladder.

Take for example the Samoan family that lived o­n my street while I was growing up. I would say that at least two independent families (most likely relatives) lived under o­ne roof. At the time, it appeared funny to see seven to twelve people always coming in and out of o­ne house. And I'm sure that other families in the neighborhood may have joked about the large Samoan family's' living arrangements then as well. However, in five to seven years time, the numbers of that large family split as members dispersed and moved o­n. Years later while I was talking to o­ne of the Samoan guys that lived in the house, he told me that the separate families did branch off because they were able to save enough money to buy independent homes.

Just this past Christmas while I was visiting my family in hometown San Diego for the holidays, I noticed that there were a lot of Black taxi drivers in downtown San Diego. My brothers told me that a group of Somalians, whom started out as low wage taxi drivers some 10 to 15 years ago, bought and now own the very lucrative taxi service.

Even now for my immigrant status as a foreign worker living in Japan, I've worked jobs that paid low wages and others that paid very well. O­n o­ne hand, I took low paying jobs out of necessity for survival. Yet still, the skills I gained from those jobs could be transferred and applied to future positions. I knew those low paying jobs would be "skill building" stepping stones as I moved up the ladder.

The point I'm making is that skills, sacrifice, and a plan go a long way. You don't always have to start off at the top. Or with education, you don't always have to go the highest ranked university in order to be successful. And unless you receive a scholarship of some form to attend that prestigious university, you will have to pay the inflated cost or will be left with a substantial "loan repayment" note that takes most people anywhere from 15 years to nearly a lifetime to repay. Not to mention, loan borrowers that don't repay their bills face IRS penalties, poor credit ratings, and potential garnishment of wages. In no way am I arguing against a quality education. I attended two top ranked U.S. universities-UC (University of California) Davis and UCLA. However, I do stand fast to the point that merely attending any university (prestigious or non) doesn't guarantee a successful career, or even employment! Having a plan, transferable skills, plus education does create more soundproof odds in favor of success and employment.

As an African American, I think what should be taken more into practice is the point of having a trade and skills as expressed by Dr. Carter G. Woodson in his book, "The Miseducation of the Negro" published in 1933. A trade and skills, in addition to a plan and education, is an equation for a high turnout of success.

Wayne E. Brown is the Founder and CEO of WEB International Publishing. He is the author and publisher of BLACK SAMURAI: Work, Travel, Culture, Religion, Struggle, & Perspective of a Black American Man. For book signing, motivational speaking engagements, and/or appearances email: web@webinternationalpublishing.com or go the website for details: www.webinternationalpublishing.com

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