Shakeel Abdulla

As Interviewed by Aalim Abdullah, on March 23, 2015

Shakeel Abdullah: In His Own Words

My full name is Shakeel Syed Abdullah and I was originally born in India, and in a small province called Trivandrum, which is part of the state Kerala. I never dreamt of coming to the United States at any point of time. I think I was 26 or 27 years old [when I immigrated].

...It was driven by two things. One was ambition and one was making a better livelihood for myself and my family. The reason for the ambition was that I saw that a lot of my friends were able to come to the United States and I wanted to do it because I was capable of doing it. I wanted to see how capable I was. So I pushed myself and I came here. The second thing was that if I could earn a little more money than I could help my parents, my brother, my sister, and my family.

It was not very hard to immigrate but it was very hard and competitive to learn the things. I immigrated on a work visa. So there was a lot of competition to get the work visa to the United States. You had to be really skilled and you had to know what you were doing. So in my case I developed specialized skills in designing integrated circuits and I have some very good understanding of electrical engineering fundamentals. That is how i came to the United States, as a skilled worker.

My mother always wanted me to come back. She didnít want me to travel and wanted me to stay with her. However I couldnít do that because we werenít making enough money at home. So I had to help out my family. Also I liked the culture of the people here slightly more better than in India. I like the US better because of the freedom that you can get in making decisions.

I would love to have my family around, but my brother for example prefers to live in Dubai and does well in that place. My sister lives in Abu Dhabi and feels comfortable living there. Abu Dhabi is three hours flight to India and Dubai is similar. They are comfortable with their lifestyle and they donít want to move. Other thing is that immigration to the US is hard, because you need to be a skilled worker or have certain credentials needed by the United States.

I came to the US with a 100 dollars in my pocket, but I was not nervous and i believed that I could make it. I was treated with respect, for sure. I have told [my family that I want them to move here] but I canít force them. I can only suggest to them. I tried to tell my brother to come but he wanted to stay. I couldn't force him it was his decision.