Take A Risk

Take A Risk


This is my “Take a Risk” story.

From my childhood in a small Polish town to becoming a proud American man who served in the United States Marine Corps, I am a patriot who loves this country and will give everything to defend its core values and freedoms. This is my story, and it is everything to me.

I want you to imagine yourself as a man in your 40s. You just closed your business and left the only home you've ever known. You packed everything you had in just two bags and purchased a one-way ticket for yourself and your family (which included a teenage son) to start a new life in an unfamiliar country half a world away, with only about $2,000 in your pocket. Would you take this risk?

My dad did.

In the year 2000, my dad received papers from the United States Immigration Administration notifying him that he had won the Green Card lottery program.

My mother owned a hair salon, and my father had a clothing store. As far as the Polish standard of living, we were doing alright: we had a house, a car, and food on the table. My parents always had extra money to send me to karate classes or music school, and by all accounts, we lived what would be considered a middle-class life in Poland. We were never desperate or hungry. We struggled with money from time to time, but my parents always figured out how to make it work, including taking on seasonal side gigs to help generate income. 

I'm telling you this because this is not your typical story of an immigrant coming to the United States from a completely fallen government where most of the people already have nothing to lose. People who experience this are perhaps more willing to take on the risk of the long journey to come here to seek a better life, but our story is a little bit different; we had a lot to lose. We had a normal life in Poland. Would you take a risk and ditch everything you have?

My grandfather started the business my mother operated; she was carrying on his tradition. Would you give that up? And your house, and the only life that you know, trading it all for a place full of unknowns that promised nothing more than the potential for something better? 

My parents decided to do it and said YES to taking a risk!

Moving to the United States from Poland was not easy nor cheap, and it took a long time from start to finish-- two years to be exact. And here is where things got a bit tricky… The first time we showed up at the US Embassy, we had gotten turned around because we didn't know a single person in America. They told us we couldn't just migrate into the country without having a sponsor. A sponsor is a person already living in the United States who will help get you settled in and situated with housing, jobs, the language, etc. Needless to say, we were deflated, but we didn't give up.

Following this setback, we hired an immigration lawyer to seek professional advice. The lawyer helped us find a random stranger who would sponsor us and help us settle in once we arrived. We had no other option but to trust this person and pray he'd show up.

About 14 months later, on the day we departed for the United States, we closed our businesses, packed everything we could in our bags, and said goodbye to our friends and family. We went off into the unknown- entering a completely foreign land, hoping our sponsor was not a complete scam and that he would actually be there to pick us up when we arrived.

I forgot to mention one very important thing... We could only afford a one-way ticket. There was not much money left after covering all of the costs to come to the United States. So there we were. We had finally landed at the Detroit airport with everything that we could bring with us, and no option to fly back home if this didn't work out.

As you can imagine, no one was there waiting on us. We called this person who was supposed to be our sponsor and pick us up from the airport. NO ANSWER...

We called again, and again, until he finally answered. He was from the Czech Republic, and between my dad speaking Polish and him speaking Czech, they understood each other just enough to get the message across. This guy said he was currently in Chicago but would send someone to pick us up. This only made us even more nervous and suspicious.

It really felt like a scam. This guy forgot to pick us up, he's in Chicago, and he's not answering our calls, and when he finally did, he said he would send someone else… Man, I'll never forget feeling so vulnerable. I saw fear in my mom's eyes and worry in my dad's. What would we do if nobody showed up? We don't speak English; we don't know anyone here. Every single person was just a stranger, and we couldn't even communicate to anyone to explain our situation.

The only thing that we had was hope.

I can't even tell you how long we were standing there, hoping someone would show up. If I had to guess, it was about 2-3 hours, but it felt like forever.

Finally, someone did show up.

I remember the feeling of relief and happiness. Not only for me, but I could see it in my parents' eyes as well. They took us to an apartment where other people were living, and for the first few months, my parents and I were essentially living in a single bedroom with multiple people living under the same roof— sharing the bathroom, kitchen, and living room with strangers. But in the realm of it all, none of this really mattered.

The only thing that mattered was that my parents TOOK A RISK, and I can't thank them enough for it. My parents were Americans in their souls before it became official on paper. They had a dream, and they believed in it. They were willing to TAKE A RISK, and without that, I wouldn't be here, I wouldn't have become an American, nor a United States Marine. I wouldn't be the man I am today.

Today, I believe taking a risk is the most American thing that there is. America was born from those who were willing to take a risk. So, Take A RISK. Believe in yourself, believe in your dreams, and go after what you really want.

Let the hunt begin. JAGER OUT.

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