Original speech date: January 16, 2017
Project: Competent Communication #1 (The Ice Breaker)
Good evening fellow Toastmasters. My name is Fahad Memon and I am proud to be a member of this community where everyone supports one another in becoming a better communicator. I was born in Pakistan. At around the age of 8, my family and I moved to Houston, TX. The way that we came to this country is somewhat of an interesting story. My father was at his job reading a newspaper. He saw an ad which encouraged people to apply for a US green card lottery. A green card lottery is initiated by the US government which gives a chance for anyone from qualifying countries to get their green card. The purpose of this lottery is to ensure plenty of diversity in this country so individuals from underrepresented countries are allowed to apply.
My father saw that ad. He did not think much of it but he was bored at the time so he filled out the application and sent it out. A few months later, we received a letter in the mail which invited us to the capital city of Pakistan for an interview at the US Embassy. We packed our bags and left to go. It was about a 14-hour train ride. As we were riding the train, my father pulled up a newspaper. The heading on the newspaper was: "US Embassy closed due to a strike in Islamabad." We were bummed out. Our family was living paycheck to paycheck and my parents had spent a lot of money on this trip only to find out that the US Embassy was closed indefinitely.
We figured that we would give it a few days and see if the embassy opens, otherwise we will go back home and forget that this ever happened. Once we arrived in Islamabad, we rented a hotel nearby and just waited in hopes that the embassy would open back up. Each day that passed became more and more burdensome for us to stay there as we did not even know we would still be interviewed by the embassy. After staying there for 3 weeks, we finally decided that we will leave the next day. The next day, on December 19th 1995, on my 8th birthday, the newspaper headline read: "Us Embassy Is Open." We took the cab to the embassy and after about two hours of interview, my family was approved for our green cards to the United States of America.
We moved to Houston in April of 1996. I did not know a word of English at the time. This made it really hard for me because not only was I a very shy kid, but not knowing the language made it even more difficult to communicate. The first phrase that I learned was "I don't know English." I used that for everything. My teacher would say, "Fahad why didn't you do your homework." "I don't know English." That ESL class was a pain.
At the age of 18, I graduated high school and wanted to go to college somewhere far away from Texas and experience a new life, new adventure. So I moved to Boston and attended Boston University. Fun fact about BU is that MLK Jr. was an alum of that university. I did not know a single person in Boston at the time but by the time I graduated, I made tons of friends from all over the world. It was the most rewarding experience that I have ever had.
After I graduated college, I got a job in Washington DC in a software database firm. A couple of years later, they opened a new branch right here in Austin and I volunteered to move here. Now I am starting a new adventure, new life, meeting new people, and getting out of my comfort zone. Thank you for letting me join your club. Thank you for being so friendly and welcoming.
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