Although I sometimes bitch and moan about the bureaucracy of my organization which I have seen grow from 160 to 2400 staff, the people that work there are, by and large, amazing. They have been the source of deep friendships and much learning. I marvel at the stories, especially of my colleagues who, like me, didn’t grow up in the US. But unlike me, the journeys that led some of them to where they are now, were not as smooth and easy as mine.

Whenever I have a problem with my computer I get assigned an IT expert to sort out my problem and fix it. I have lately had a lot of such problems and am getting to know one amazing lady, Khin, who hails from Myanmar (Birma). While we were fixing my ‘dancing’ cursor problem I asked her how she got to be an IT expert. She fixed the problem so quickly that I didn’t get the whole story and so we’ll have lunch when I get back from the Philippines for the rest.

She embodies to me the thirst of learning that can be a powerful driving force, especially for young girls who, in their culture, are not expected or supposed to do anything other than getting married and have babies. But Khin wanted none of that and showed great ingenuity, when begging and crying didn’t work all that well, to reach her goals.

This included setting up a beauty salon, instructing a younger sister to eventually take it over, playing the USA visa lottery (success at first try), taking advantage of services offered to new immigrants, learning CAD at an engineering firm while also getting her beauty salon license. She studied at Wentworth, then BU’s Computer Sciences and now she is helping us computer-illiterates with our problems. Hearing all of that and thinking about my own path that led me to where I am, I was humbled and awed.

In the often acrimonious debates about immigration we do not usually think of people like her and yet my hunch is America is full of them.

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