I have never called anywhere but Massachusetts my home, but I can't say the same for my parents. In the 50s, my parents, Mahesh and Chandrika, were born and raised in Gujarat, India. Gujarat is an underdeveloped state, without basic utilities like running water, sewer systems, trash systems, proper electrical systems, etc. Typically, men were educated and the sole providers for the family, while women and girls did not pursue higher education because they were expected to cook, clean, and maintain the household.
My parents never ventured outside the borders of Gujarat, but they were convinced their family would have a better life and more opportunities abroad. In 1981, my uncle, Bhanu, sponsored my parents to come to the U.S. on a temporary visa. This was the start of their journey. They packed up their homes, left behind family and friends, and said “goodbye” to everything they knew except their four suitcases.
My parents and my oldest sister, Shetal, traveled from India to America. They moved up and down the East Coast, having another daughter, Hema, and myself along the way. They transitioned to a new country where they didn't speak the language; they didn't understand the idioms; their customs were different; their clothes were different. And despite all the obstacles, they persevered, never looking back and never giving up. They did not live – they survived.
They took on a new country, new systems, new culture, and made it their own.
My story has some small similarities with my parents. I grew up in a suburban city as a minority and I stood out. But the major difference between us is I grew up with privileges, with opportunities, and with a developed infrastructure. That’s all because of my parents’ drive and hard work. I have luxuries they never had. I have warm water and a washer and dryer. I attended a top university in Boston. I have worked for four reputable companies. And most importantly, I’ve been able to pursue my passions. I have lived a very fulfilled life, and for that I am grateful.
For many people, including my parents, their job is a paycheck. For me, it’s more than that. It’s a way for me to pay back my parents for all the sacrifices they made for us. I’m able to bring my whole self to work, to foster great relationships, and to work in collaborative ways. These are all things I wish my parents had.
I’m grateful for my parents because every accomplishment, every triumph, and every success I achieve I owe to them. My parents risked it all, just so we could have it all.
In celebration of World Gratitude Day on Saturday, yesterday Workhuman® hosted “Take Your Gratitude to Work Day,” where I was able to bring my parents to work to learn about my company and meet my mentors and friends. My parents, who only ever worked blue collar jobs to make ends meet, now see how their sacrifices have shaped me into the person I am today.
Who are you grateful for? Share on social media with the hashtag #WorldGratitag. Let’s make every day World Gratitude Day.
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