Becoming American — Reflections on my journey to becoming the naturalized U.S. citizen I am today
Immigration is so common it might seem banal, but it profoundly changes you as a person. It changes your identity, how you relate to your new home, and your old one.
After witnessing the 2016 and 2020 election cycles, the pandemic, the rise of anti-Asian hate crimes, and the national reckoning and protests following George Floyd’s murder, I became a U.S. citizen. I started 2021 as a Sino-Mauritian-Canadian and ended it with “American” added to the mix. I’ve since been unpacking what this means and how it changes who I am and who I become. Over the last few years, I found myself examining how living in Mauritius, Toronto, then California, have shaped the American woman I’m becoming today.
Excuse me, I didn’t order an American dream.
If ten years ago, you had told me that I would be an American citizen in today, I would probably have scoffed at the idea. Although less enthused by every subsequent Torontonian winter, I was perfectly content with my free, universal healthcare, very decent public transit, and downtown life with my brother. I had relatives nearby, a pretty good network in music and tech, and felt I had great career options right where I was. I gave the American dream as much thought as I would a search for treasure hidden by pirates: none.
In 2012, I graduated and soon landed a job at a startup called Locationary. The team was small, had a nice, low-key office space downtown Toronto, and offered me an interesting machine learning/engineering job. I was ecstatic. Little did I know that this first job would completely change my life.
Less than a year later, I was touring the Apple campus in Silicon Valley with the rest of the team, trying to picture ourselves living and working in California. Coming from Mauritius, the year-round sunshine was not a hard sell for me. For the first time, I considered what it would be like to move to the U.S., at least for a while.