Two ways to Be in America is about the story of two sisters who immigrated to the United States and had different experiences as a result of immigration policies. Mira and Bharat share similarities in their religious beliefs and appearance in their first years in America. The two came to the United States intending to stay for two years and then go back to India afterward. However, both got married and were not able to go back to their home country. Mira married an Indian student as she wanted to maintain her identity, while Bharat wedded an American of Canadian parentage. Bharat can adjust quickly to American life and even obtains American citizenship. Mira, on the other hand, clings to her Indian identity as she has intentions of going back after retirement. Therefore, the two ways to belong to America are either to transform and assimilate or be an expatriate.
Mira and Bharat shared similar religious beliefs during their first years in the country. The two sisters came to the United States as students with a dream of earning their degrees and going back to their country. The author notes that they had any intention of going back to India to marry the grooms their father would choose. Having come from a family that observed the idea of arranged marriages, it was essential for them to go back to their country. However, both of them sacrificed these beliefs and instead opted to do what they wanted. Mira decided to marry an Indian student and acquired a green card together with her husband. Bharat, on the other hand, decided to marry an American of Canadian parentage and eventually obtained American citizenship. Their dream of going back to India was pushed back due to the opportunities that existed in America. This indicates that both were influenced by their experiences in the country which impacted the decisions they made.
Bharat and Mira were able to finish their studies and obtain well-paying job opportunities. Mira worked in Southfield, Michigan, school system and was recognized nationally for her contribution to preschool education and parental-teacher relationships (Mukherjee 273). Bharat taught literature and fiction writing at the University of California, Berkeley. The work opportunities enabled them to showcase their talents and earn recognition from their peers. This points to one of the aspects that makes people from other countries want to come to America. It provides immigrants with opportunities that enable them to enhance their skills and use them to grow the country. Even though they were away from each other, they maintained contact every week through their weekly Sunday conversations (Mukherjee 273). One of the reasons that motivated them to stay in contact was that they did not have other relatives on the continent. This created the urge to keep communicating and ensure they would help each other in case of any problem.
Mira maintains her identity by marrying an Indian and obtaining a temporary American identity. Bharat, on the other hand, assimilates and transforms into an immigrant by adopting the American culture. Mira felt that the American community had not welcomed her based on the way she was being treated after the immigration laws were changed. Bharat understands her sister’s views because she experienced the same situation when in Canada. However, those circumstances motivate Bharat to obtain American citizenship after moving to America with her husband. In doing so, Bharat can adjust quickly to the American way of life and even rethinks her earlier intentions of moving back to India. Bharat notes that America spoke to her and she married it (Mukherjee 274). Mira retains her desire to return as she feels America has betrayed her. She notes that she had some kind of irrational attachment to India that she does not have to America (Mukherjee 274). Mira had worked diligently and pioneered various concepts in the field of preschool education. Despite all these efforts, the change in immigration laws affected her ability to assimilate.
Based on the experience of the author, to belong to America requires one to either be a citizen through acquiring a green card or fit in with society and feel as if one belongs. Mira does not want to integrate and opts to obtain a green card which allows her to travel to different places in the world as an American citizen. Bharat assimilates into society and can live an independent life working as a lecturer at the University of California. From the article, Bharat seems to prefer the American lifestyle and is happy to renounce the Indian culture in favor of the new culture. The change in the immigration laws plays a part in Mira’s quest to be an expatriate. She cannot understand how the country can be insensitive to immigrants who have contributed positively to the country’s growth.
In summary, Bharat and Mira travel to the United States for educational purposes but end up staying indefinitely. Their experiences in the country impact the decisions they make later in their life. Mira chooses to maintain her identity as an Indian while Bharat assimilates into American society. Bharat acquires American citizenship after her experience in Canada, whereas Mira chooses to be an expatriate. This is because she had plans to go back to India. The author indicates that immigrants for immigrants to belong in America they have two choices which are to assimilate and transform or become an expatriate.
Mukherjee, Bharati. “Two ways to belong in America.” Short Essays for Composition (1996): 272-275.