My parents, similar to most Ethiopian Americans in my generation, came to the United States during a time in which Ethiopia was changing drastically. There was internal warfare as the government was changing and young people joined the political movement. Our parents left Ethiopia during this time, either escaping dangers presented, or leaving before danger found them. They were separated from their parents at an early age, coming to America in search of something better, with nothing in their pockets. They left their homes not knowing when the next time they would see their family would be. They left not knowing what awaited them on the other side of the world. In the Washington DC area our parents gathered, hundreds moving into the city, making contact with one another, developing their own new family in their new home. They met and organized to maintain awareness of the political unrest in their homeland. They supported one another and grew as individuals and as a community. They went to college, graduate school, got married, bought homes, and had children (Ethiopian American children).
My perspective is this: our parents came to the United States not knowing what their future held, knowing they couldn’t run back to mom and dad if things went wrong; WE on the other hand have our parents support, if things fall apart as we try to reach our goals in life we know we can go back to mom and dad. We have stability. At least that has been my experience, and I’m sure the experience of many others.
Life happens, but my motivation has always been the relentless hard work of my parents. Our families, our parents, those that came here first to set up the pathway for us: Every time I think I want to quit, I remember I am an Ethiopian American. I remember where I come from, what it took to get me here, and I keep moving forward.