America: brought to you by immigrants.
McEntee Law Group loves hearing success stories from immigrants, and we like to share them even more. Not only does it provide necessary education on how much immigrants help to guide and mold our nation, but it gives hope to foreign nationals everywhere. For this article, we interviewed Maria Grace Delima, an immigration law practitioner who came to the U.S. from Indonesia. Read on to hear her story.
Can you tell us your immigration story?
April 2018 was the very first time I set my foot in the United States of America, from a beautiful country literally on the other side of the world, Indonesia. I moved to the United States because of my husband’s career, who is also originally from Indonesia. We resided in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, as that is where my husband works. I initially came with a spouse visa as a derivative beneficiary of my husband’s work visa. We then applied for adjustment of status that granted us a Green Card as lawful permanent residents. I have been in the States for almost five years now.
I started afresh—a whole new life here in a completely different “world”. English is not the language of my mother tongue. In my first year, I dealt with culture shock, being homesick, and assimilation—in which I was trying to fit into American society. And just like other immigrants and children of immigrants, sometimes I struggled to find a sense of belonging. I have been adjusting—to not merely survive but also thrive. After thousands of extraordinary days of experience, opportunity, friendship, and cultural integration behind me, I can finally call America home.
I am grateful for the privileges I have living here. Before moving to the States, I practiced law in Indonesia. Last year, I decided to go back to law school to pursue LL.M. at LSU Law. I am passionate in immigration law and aim to be an immigration attorney. Shortly after my graduation, I got a job offer at a leading immigration law firm in Louisiana where I currently work at. In addition to working, I’m also preparing for the bar exam. I can’t wait to join 4% of Asian-American lawyers in the United States and be part of mainstream America; so that other immigrants like me, people of color like me, can be represented. Because representation matters. This is my American Dream.
What food/dish do you miss most from your home country?
I miss “ketoprak” so much. “Ketoprak” is an Indonesian dish that consists of tofu, vegetables, rice cake, and rice vermicelli served in peanut sauce. I ate it once to twice a week back home. I’ve learned and figured how to cook various Indonesian dishes, but this one is quite hard to figure out haha
What was the weirdest/most unusual thing you noticed about the U.S. when you moved here?
Like in most other Asian countries, we normally chin down (and sometimes head bow or even bow) in greeting people or strangers which is also a sign of respect. Whereas here, it’s the opposite! People lift their chin to say, “good morning, how are you doing?” haha
What do you love most about the U.S.?
Absolutely, the freedom. I love the fact that people are more open-minded here. They do not really care about what you wear; most of them understand to mind their own business. People also give compliments easily which I truly appreciate.
Who or what resources have you found to be most helpful in your immigration journey?
Books, movies about immigrant experience, and most importantly immigrant personal stories. They resonate with me and keep me grounded.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve face being an immigrant here in America?
As an immigrant, it feels like I always have to work twice or even ten times harder than my American peers. Sometimes, I feel as though I’m never good enough. There is always prejudice towards a woman of color, an Asian woman, speaking English with accent.
If you could give your younger self one piece of advice about coming to the U.S., what would it be?
Love your home country; learn as much as you can about your ancestry, culture, culinary traditions; and travel domestically. These things that may once felt ordinary will become extraordinary – which shape your identity and who you are in America.
Maria is a law practitioner, specializing in immigration law. She holds a Master of Law degree from LSU Law and a Bachelor of Law from University of Indonesia, Faculty of Law. She also has sixteen years of experience in entrepreneurship and business in the fashion industry. In addition, she is experienced in social media strategy, platform management, creative direction, content production and more.
If you’d like to nominate an immigrant that you know to be featured in our blog, send your nomination to firstname.lastname@example.org