After 9 years.
That's almost a decade. But after 9 years of being in this country, I finally received my green card the other day. It's been a long convoluted road, from a J then H visa and now this.
Though it's a huge relief, and will make travelling with my family much easier, and not having to worry about 'secondary' screens (which is still much better these days compared to the post 9/11 days), getting this was almost a bittersweet moment.
Probably more psychological, since I've called this place home for the last 9 years. Including medical school, I've lived in North America since 1998.
But, becoming a Permanent Resident, also makes it pretty clear (if it wasn't already): This, here, is now home. Here.
No longer Malaysia. No longer the place I was born. The place I grew up with, the place that holds so many precious memories, and still holds so many family and friends still so dear to me.
Though this was not what I foresaw when I started my career here, this was but to be expected when Kristin and I got married and started our family. And though I do consider it a privilege to receive this card, I am somewhat saddened to think about the factors that led me here. The same factors that have led 5 of the 10 other close friends of mine from highschool to seek permanent residence elsewhere, outside of Malaysia. To cause the massive brain drain from Malaysia, the loss of so many young talents. The same issue that comes up over and over again, in a country that found her independence almost 55 years ago: If you are of a different skin color, then you'll always be an immigrant. You'll never have the same rights.
So ultimately, for my family, for my daughter's future, like many of my friends who think about their children's futures, we seek greener pastures. Though this place is far from perfect, this is now home.