A Bosnian Immigrant
By Malik Saric
Bosnia and Herzegovina
is a tiny country off the coast of the Mediterranean. It was part of the
until 1995 when it gained its independence. Many immigrants came during the
Bosnian War as refugees. Others, like my father, came for different reasons.
past century, there have been a significant number of Bosnian immigrants to
Many Bosnians came as “economic immigrants,” trying to escape poverty. Most
came in the 1990’s during the Bosnian war as refugees. Others left because
of ethnical problems. There were also people escaping political wars inside
the former Yugoslavia. No one came for the fun of it, even if they wanted
to, because they were just too poor.
When Bosnians came to America, they came through European countries like
Austria and Germany during the war. They would seek refuge there before
moving on in their quest to America.
My Father’s Story:
My father Muhamed was born in 1960. He was from Bosnia and Herzegovina, a
very content part of the former Yugoslavia. But although he was a top medical student
in the country, he couldn’t pursue his career as a top doctor because his
family was anti-Communist in a Communist country. He was 27 when he took the
plane to J.F.K airport in 1987. He came because he was invited to become an
NYU graduate student. Without the invitation, he would not be my father.
His quest was a difficult one. He came with no one. He only knew one person
out of the 250 million people in America. He met Victor Rodwin, a professor
at NYU, in Bosnia by being his interpreter in court. When he arrived in New
York, he could not even call Victor because he didn’t know the area code; or
that you have to put a “one” in front of the area code when you dial. My dad
only brought one suitcase with a few articles of clothing, a few books, and
$350 in American dollars.
My father knew what to expect when he came to America because he had seen
American TV and movies. When he arrived, he was pleased with America. He
liked that if you work hard, you get more, unlike the Communist ways
(everyone gets the same salary).
In order to make money in America, he first worked as a scientist doing
research on the African sleeping sickness with a man named Allen Clarkson.
It was with that man that he got his PhD.
After that he went back to medicine and now he is the director of
echocardiography and a professor at the largest hospital in New Jersey,
While he was a student at NYU, he lived in NYU housing. When he got married
in 1990, he moved in with my mom for a very short while. The apartment was
East 9th Street
and 3rd Avenue. His next and most recent move was to where I live
now, on East 24th Street and 3rd Avenue.
Until 1990, my dad was staying in America using a student’s visa. As soon as
he got married, he was able to stay in America for the rest of his life.
Seven years after the landing gear of the plane he was on from Bosnia
touched the ground, he took the test and became a U.S citizen.
is the story that a Bosnian immigrant had. You may hear similar stories, but
this unique story belongs to my father.