Why I Won't Let Donald Trump Question My Greatness As A Muslim Immigrant

by Gulnaaz Afzal

If truth be told, I think deep down we all knew Donald Trump was coming, we just didn't want to admit it.

Life ahead will be like living in a nightmare — our nightmare. But is it really "ours?" Am I eligible to call this country mine?

This question is like the soundtrack of my life, and it only gets louder each time I hear news about the racist and xenophobic president-elect.

I'm an Indian Muslim exchange student who belongs to a religion Trump isn't too fond of.

I first entered this country three months ago, just as everything was being figured out.

Trump's election impacted me and my emotions — I went from a raging anger, to a feeling of horror and then pain. I became insecure and fearful.

I'm scared to be young and alone in a country that now doesn't accept me. I fear what the future will hold for me just because of my religion.

I moved to the US to pursue a life-long dream of mine to attain a foreign education. My passion is aerospace engineering, and knowing the US has a huge market for it, I was sure I would establish my career here.

Things were tough at first, but as the days went on the people in my life slowly started to make America feel like my home away from home.

But after the election results, I wonder if I'll continue to feel that way.

Staying in the US is a mammoth task for immigrants, between the cost of living, the job market and the emotional setbacks and cultural shocks we encounter.

As a student, I work hard to have a life here, and I'll still have student loans to pay off for the rest of my life. Securing a job is an even bigger issue than the cost of living. The job market is tough for American citizens, so you can only imagine how much harder it is for international students.

Things are undoubtedly different on the other side of the world, especially where I come from. So it requires a lot of mental strength to adapt myself to the American culture. But in doing this, I struggle with emotional setbacks and I have to constantly overcome them on my own.

Now, I know no one forced immigrants to be here; we came on our own to achieve our goals and contribute to the country that welcomed us and helped us do that.

So trust me, I'm incredibly thankful.

But now, Trump is threatening to ostracize Muslims and to exile them from the country, so I can't say I feel the same thankfulness I once did.

The fact he's even considering a national Muslim registry terrifies me. His demands for immigrants to go back to their nations make my heart hurt. 

His open verbal assaults to women disgust me, and his racism that is so vehemently exercised across arenas is something I will never be able to wrap my mind around.

So how am I — an immigrant, a Muslim, a woman — supposed to feel safe in America when I'm everything Trump hates?

I know there isn't an answer to this question, and that's the worst part of it all.

I don't know what's in store for me, but I do know I have to stand tall and strong to fulfill my dreams.

I know right now we have a president-elect who approves of racist, misogynistic and xenophobic ideologies, but I know America doesn't approve or respect those ideologies.

So I'm making a promise to myself, that no matter what happens, I will keep fighting the problems, the inner battles and everything I'll be subjected to in Trump's America.

I know this country is great, and I will work hard to believe in this country and to contribute to its progress, prosperity, development, well-being, honor and greatness.

The idea of Trump's America can't shake up this nation because America doesn't need to be great again — it's already great.

The idea of Trump's America can't shake up this nation because America doesn't need to be great again — it's already great.

To all Americans, we're humans just like you.

We have aspirations, dreams, wishes and values, just like you, and we cherish them.

We're not here to cause terror or discomfort to you. Yes, we want to study and work here, but not at the cost of your jobs, livelihood or peace of mind.

We want to be your friends and well-wishers, so please accept the hand we're offering. It would mean the world.