In 1990, the United states initiated the Diversity Immigrant Visa program. The aim of the program was to provide an annual lottery for immigrant visas, in order to diversify the immigrant population in the United States. My father in his late 20's at the time, was one of the lucky winners of the lottery when it first started in his native country of Bangladesh. His friends were very skeptical; they told him that it was hard enough as is, paying your way to get into America, yet here he was, being offered a free passage by the United States government. They had read about the history of the slave trade, and provided my dad with warnings and horrific tales, since they believed he was being brought into America, due to a need for workers. Their imaginative tales portrayed my fathers destination as some sort of island where he would be kept, toiling away in the fields. My father, educated and bright, paid no mind to his friends' warnings. Bangladesh was in the midst of political turmoil and living conditions weren't so great. My father did not know where in America he was going, nor did he have any contacts in America, or any plan for survival. All he knew was that it was a country that would offer the chance at a better life, if not for him, then for his family. The most significant things in my dads luggage were a few spices, such as this turmeric powder, provided by my grandmother, so that he may cook food as it was prepared in Bangladesh.
– Arif Mahmud