Macaulay Honors College Seminar 2, IDC 3001H

Immigrant Sacrifices

On Wednesday, we discussed the daily routine of halal cart workers. From my research so far, I’ve only found that an arduous day of labor awaits halal cart employees. From waking up at 5 or 6 am, to standing on one’s feet for eight hours in all weather conditions, halal cart workers truly have to be resilient and have some degree of passion towards what they are doing. This, in turn, makes me wonder about the general working conditions of immigrants.

More often than not, immigrants face not only longer hours and lower wages, but also a high chance of not working in a field for which they earned an education. Just the other day, I was speaking to one of the workers in my building. He is a handyman who immigrated quite a while ago, whose job is to fix things in the building. He complained about his hard day of manual work, but his eyes immediately lit up when talking about his son. His son is, coincidentally, transferring to Baruch next semester to pursue a finance degree. With excitement, he announced “My son is going to become somebody.”

I think this conversation illustrates the core of the American Dream, the reason why immigrants put up with whatever work conditions they can find: so that the next generation can be in a better place. I’d like to find out more about this as it relates to halal cart workers, but this is a theme that’s resurfaced all semester. I can personally relate to this kind of immigrant sacrifice, as my mom did the same for me when we immigrated—and I am eternally grateful.


  1. Eddie Farhi

    Hi Alexandra,

    I really enjoyed your post about the American Dream. You touched on a lot of really important points. The part that I enjoyed the most was about our parents. Sometimes you don’t realize the sacrifices they make. As illustrated by your conversation with the handyman in your building, sometimes all our parents want is a better life for us. This idea I think is at the core of the American Dream as you pointed out.

  2. Katherine Dorovitsine

    Hi Lexy,

    I found your post really interesting, especially because it has been a problem for generations. Throughout our study of immigrants in New York, we have seen this reoccurring theme of immigrants giving up everything for a better life, not even for themselves but for their children and the generations to come. It is surprising to me that this is still a problem today in a society that has the reputation of being so open minded. Immigrants that are in the country legally still often find it extremely difficult to find work, as your example proved, and have to settle for jobs that provide unfavorable working conditions. Despite this, I find it quite admirable what so many immigrants do for their families. Just like your handyman made sacrifices for his son, so many others do the same and it truly says something about the desire so many people have to attain the American dream.

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