My name is Darshna Shah.

Vadodara, India

Chicago, Illinois




I came here in 1988. I was 24 years old. My dad and my grandfather were here and they really didn’t like this country, but my sister, who was also here, was like, “Oh, she has a chance to come over here, just come and see how she likes it here or not.” So I came over here. I was excited because I wanted to see a new country. And the people in India, they were like, “Oh, America is a great country” and this and that.

The flight over here was cool because that was my first time on a plane. I wasn’t scared for the flight. I acted like the usual, 23 or 24 year old. You know how they are. They think, “Oh, I am the best, I know everything,” I was not scared or anything, even though that was my first time flying in an airplane. I had so much confidence, a couple of people came to me at the airport, like, “Oh my mom is going to London, please take care of her, please make sure she gets off at the right place.” A silly thing I did on the plane was that after my meal, there was an extra butter packet. I didn’t want to throw it out, so I put it in my shirt pocket. And it melted!

When I came to O’Hare, my sister was there to pick me up. I remember looking at the big buildings and thinking it was really pretty. I liked how clean and nice the environment was.

In the beginning, I didn’t like it. The first few days, people were coming in and out. During the weekend, we invited people over, so that was fun but it didn’t last long. After two or three weeks, I was like, “Oh, there’s nothing to do.”

I started looking for jobs but it was not easy. And when I came here, I was thinking, “Oh, I know English very well,” but when I came over here, it was totally different, because their pronunciation and my pronounciation was totally different, and there were a lot of times I didn’t understand. It took a little time for me to understand what people are trying to say. I really didn’t understand the questions sometimes. They’d ask, “Do you have transportation to work?” And I could’ve said, “Oh, I’ll take public transportation,” but I said “No,” so they rejected me right there. So then I applied to McDonald’s, which was close to the house. The interviewer asked me, “Why should I hire you?” and I said, “It’s up to you.” So he asked me again, “Why should I hire you?” And I said, “It’s up to you.” I should’ve said that, “Oh, I live in walking distance,” but hey, I didn’t say that. So he didn’t hire me. Looking at it now, it was so funny.