Fulfilling the American dream

Senior+Samin+Budhwani+sits+on+top+of+her+car+during+senior+sunrise+on+Aug.+30.

Photo via Samin Budhwani

Senior Samin Budhwani sits on top of her car during senior sunrise on Aug. 30.

By Christy Thomas, Hebron High School

Senior Samin Budhwani never thought she would leave the only home she has ever known in Pakistan. Yet, she has lived in the US now for four years and decades to go. 

Samin was born in the United States; however, she lived in Pakistan for almost all of her life. In 2018, she moved to the U.S. to further her education at Hebron. 

“I still remember the day I decided to move to the U.S,” Samin said. “In Karachi, we were about to go to KFC, and my father asked if I wanted to move. I straight up said no. As time went by during the burger-eating process, my father kept trying to convince me. Interestingly, by the time dessert came, I was fully convinced.” 

Samin moved to the U.S. with the intention of furthering her education. However, her family could not come with her, and since she was only 14, her parents picked their family friends living in the U.S. to serve as her host family. Since then, she has moved to four different houses in the span of four years. 

“We chose Texas, specifically Dallas, because many people from our community lived [here],” Samin’s mother Shahla Budhwani said. “That way, a piece of her culture would still be with her. We just wanted the best for her.” 

For Samin, the transition to a new home was not easy. After her initial stay, she decided to immediately go back home to Karachi. 

“I felt like a black sheep, and I started to reserve myself,” Samin said. “That once outgoing, bubbly girl had turned into an insecure, nervous and self-conscious girl. I lost myself completely to embrace the American culture that never belonged to me. Within three months, I left America with the intention of never returning. Yet, my parents were able to convince me again, and as someone who hates giving up, I decided to give it another shot.” 

The first American school Samin ever attended was Hebron. She enrolled three months after freshman year started and said that she has made significant strides in both her education and perspective on culture.

“I started my life from scratch when I was 14,” Samin said. “Freshman year did not treat me well. I didn’t pull myself together until sophomore year. That is when I decided to branch out and make new friends. Hebron is so diverse, and I started to meet different types of people, which is in stark contrast to Pakistan where almost everyone has the same religion and culture. I started joining different clubs, and my grades and mental health significantly improved. This time, I decided to just be myself.”

However, Samin’s living costs were high, so to compensate for it, she decided to start tutoring students. She also decided to participate in an internship with the World Education Fund, where she teaches English to students from third world countries. 

“The dollar rate was always increasing,” Samin said. “During that time, one U.S. dollar was worth about 160 Pakistani rupees, so I felt guilty asking my parents to send over money. I had to get a source of income. I decided to tutor kids, and I felt like it was the perfect job for me since education was such a central theme in my life.”

In the summer of 2020, Samin traveled back to her native land. Due to the ongoing pandemic, she decided to stay home in Karachi and continue school virtually. However, she stepped back onto campus this year. 

“Samin didn’t tell a soul that she was back,” senior and friend Merin Santhosh said. “On the first day of school, I recognized her in the halls, and I was so shocked to see her back. We started hugging, and we went to surprise all of our other friends. I actually took videos of it, and the reactions were so sweet.”

Samin plans to enter the business field and continue her educational path in the United States. 

“I want to be able to work in a way that is beneficial to both Pakistan and America,” Samin said. “Not having a permanent home was worth it, as long as I stayed true to myself and my upbringing. I am content with where I am, and I know I am on the right path towards achieving my dreams and bringing pride to those who have worked hard to get me where I am today.”

This story was originally published on The Hawk Eye on February 7, 2022.