Tuesday, June 17, 2014

20 years ago

On the 17th June, having spent a few days with my daughter in Toulouse, France - I took a train to Paris and from there another train to Frankfurt in Germany. Early the next morning I flew from Frankfurt to London, and made a tight connection to the United States of America.
Collage I made during Arts & Crafts class at Summer Camp July 1994

the travel documents that took  me from Ireland to the
US  via France, Germany and England 20 years ago
On the 18th June 1994 I set foot on United States soil for the very first time in my life. My port of entry was Dulles Washington DC. My intention was to build myself a new life. I had won a green card in the lottery and I was on a mission to design my own dream. (see more here about the lottery).

My book devotes a few chapters to my transition from misery to America in a number of not so easy steps. But I got here. And I did succeed in designing my own dream. I do admit that I was very lucky, but I do also believe we make our one luck. We are in charge of our own destiny.

mementos from camp, and some awards I treasure
From 18th June 1994 to 18th August 1994 I lived like I was in a dream world, or a '70s movie. I worked in a Summer Camp in Northern Michigan, Camp Maplehurst, sadly the property is now up for sale, see their Facebook page here.

I taught horseback riding and Arts & Crafts and I learnt how to shoot, had some swimming lessons, I got an insight into what it was like to be an American kid (albeit a privileged one - summer camp is not cheap) and made some lasting friendships, plus I got a ride all the way from Northern Michigan to Austin Texas at the end of that summer.

Moving to the United States was one of the hardest, bravest, luckiest and most unexpected things I have ever done in my life. But it gave me a new life and the dream I designed came true. I continue to live it 20 years later. Despite the difficulties I have written about in various blog entries and in my book, I feel very privileged and proud to be here and to be a US citizen. Despite the economic, political and civil disputes, I have confidence it will remain a great place to live. While the streets are not paved with gold as the Irish used to believe, there is a good life to be had here if you are prepared to work for it.

If you read my book, you will know the bumpy, sometimes scary, path that brought me here and believe me that every word in that book is true. I had a lot of help along the way, I need to mention that my three children all supported me one hundred percent, though I am certain they had some doubts about my sanity.

I could not have made the move without the help of my good friend Paul O'B, who gave me moral and financial assistance when it was most needed, he also gave me the name and address of a friend of his in the US - essential as I needed to have an address to which my permanent green card would be mailed. Then I had the amazing good fortune to be introduced to Paul N (Paul appears to be a good name) who helped me to land safely in Texas, with a 5 month house sit and a temporary job that carried me through till I found full time employment.

Last, but by no means least, my dream would not have been complete without my amazing husband, Larry.

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