Before jumping into my experience as a Freedom Dividend Recipient, I want to give you a glimpse into my background and immigration life. I know some of you are wondering, why did she get selected? I honestly don’t know but I will take a wild guess, so If you want to skip to that, then read the last section of this post. When getting to know someone, people typically start with “what do you do”? This post will reference it at the bottom as well but my job does not define me. My roots, my family, my future aspirations do. If you are curious and excited to hear about my background, here we go…
Coming to America
In 1990, I was joyfully born to a 2 parent, 2 sibling household in a quaint apartment overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. During the 1990’s, Algeria faced a brutal civil war that changed the outlook of the country. While the civil war persisted, having dealt with scares of shootings and school drills, all I remember was happiness, running around in rocks and a forest, which now looking back was just a few trees, gotta love kids perspective. My parents made me feel safe and harm did not come to us. They worked as educators, my mother as an English teacher and my father sharing his wisdom as a Geophysicist. At some point I remember my mother selling all our house items, I never thought anything of it. Next thing I know, one early morning, around 5 AM, my family and I depart to the airport with few luggage. It was my first time in the plane and I couldn’t be happier, little did I know that we were moving! After several applications later by the persistence and courage of my mother, we were accepted to America.
Coming to Queens, NY was unpleasant, to say the least. We are, to this day, first-generation immigrants. As soon as we landed, we had no place to go, no-one to guide us. My parents asked our taxi driver to take us to the nearest hotel. For months, we lived there and wasted the money we had until we eventually found temporary housing in 1-bedroom. The area was violent, there were still shootings at local bars. As a 7 year old who didn’t speak English, never left Algeria, I remained in shock. I made friends with other ESL students, who like myself did not speak English. Till high-school, I barely spoke in class or socialized regularly but being around other immigrants reminded me that even though we came from different corners of the world, we collectively can look at each other without words and understand each others upbringings. My father started working at a factory stuffing envelops, found a teaching post at a community college and was let go after 9/11 due to discrimination. My mother carried the weight for a few years working morning and night shift and eventually my father pursued a dangerous job, Uber and Taxi services. Despite all the heartaches of the day to day grind, all 5 of us lived together in a 1-bedroom harmoniously with my pet turtle that I insisted on getting. We spent several nights together dancing, playing drums, dressing up as if we were in 1000 and 1 Nights, Les milles et une nuit.
“I don’t live in either my past or my future. I’m interested only in the present. If you can concentrate always on the present, you’ll be a happy man. Life will be a party for you, a grand festival, because life is the moment we’re living now.”― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
NYC truly taught me at a young age endurance and determination. As an example, at the end of high-school through college I worked 2-3 jobs at once. Most importantly, the conglomerate of so many immigrants who shared similar stories helped motivate me. My mother as an E.S.L teacher would ask her adult student to write stories of how they came to America and their experience. While watching my mothers students or reading their notes, I found common themes in their beautiful spirits, courage to start a new chapter and taking a selfless chance in life for their family who are near or far.
While living in NYC tests your limits, in 2017 both of my parents retired and my plan was simple. I was engaged at the time and had an apartment in Northern Virginia. Once I had married, I moved with my husband to Maryland and provided my apartment in Northern Virginia. I supported my parents financially but most importantly being close to once another was more than anything I can ask for. After rent increased too much and having to commute through traffic to see my parents, I found an apartment nearby cheaper and closer to nature where they can spend more afternoon walks. On September 10, 2019, my parents moved to the apartment in Maryland. 2 days later, on September 12, 2019, the Third Democratic Debate aired and little did I know what to expect.
VIVA YANG GANG and VIVA LAS VEGAS
I was sitting watching the Democratic Debate September 12, 2019, heard Andrew Yang, 2020 Democratic presidential candidate and went directly to the website! I had a euphoric feeling. I zoned everything out and wrote a few sentences about my background and aspirations. Since that moment, all was forgotten until I was at a friends wedding and received an e-mail. Skeptical and going back and forth via e-mail, Andrews’ employee sent me a picture at their office. Even still, I could not believe this. At that moment, I realized what it would mean for every American to receive it. I wish everyone felt what I felt and this is one of the main reasons I am even writing this post. A few weeks later, I received a phone call letting me know Andrew Yang wants to talk to me on October 31st. That day I was at client site in a 6-hour meeting and as soon as I finished I tried to find a hiding spot in the lobby. Joining the conference line, his face popped up and he congratulated me. Of course I was at loss of words. All I knew is my parents were proud and I was able to breathe. Feel free to watch the video Andrew put together of all the recipients announcements on the live stream.
I was invited to Las Vegas for 3 events on November 17th: 1. Luncheon with Andrew Yang and all the Freedom Dividend Recipients 2. Rally with the Yang Gang 3. Nevada Democratic Convention with all the Democratic presidential candidates, most importantly Andrew Yang. The luncheon was surreal. Seeing his team there and all the hard work and coordination they have put into not just our Luncheon but his day to day activities and goals. They are his backbone and I made sure to thank them greatly. First we went around the room to freely talk about what we want to share to one another before Andrew joined. Once Andrew came in, immediately I wanted to stand-up and jump, but I remained composed. He sat down with us. I always said, Andrew feels like someone I can just hang out with and talk with. He was everything I could have imaged and more. He was selfless, curious about us, compassionate, wise.
During the book signing moment, Andrew said to me: “Lamia I feel like we have a lot in common”. That phrase has not left my mind till this day. Being in technology space myself, I know first-hand what automation will do to American jobs and dreams. We also both have parents who are educators and immigrants who have felt as though the only way to survive is to justify ourselves. We are humans #humanityfirst Such simple words but he is personable and makes everyone he encounters feel as long lost friends. I could not thank him and his team enough. I pray everyone can feel the love and sincerity from Andrew Yang.
What else is there to know? Q&A
- What do you think about the Dividend? I hear so many people’s stories whether around me physically or in the virtual world. For some it will be purely about bills, others for their passions, but for all it is a moment of relief and re-gaining confidence in life. Regardless, the Freedom Dividend will allow Americans to not be confined to their day to day worries and be more active in their community or in their passions. My hope with this Freedom Dividend is for us to see better life expectancy, reduce health risk and progression in our thinking and being global leaders.
- What will you be using the check for? Ultimately, I feel we have a big responsibility to show America and our communities what it can do to transform our lives. At the moment, it will be used as an additional portfolio to support my parents whether it is medical bills or rent. I will also assist my mother who is a wonderful book publisher to attend book fairs, conferences and more. She has published a memoir in English and French as well as a French learning book. For me, it will come from within. I can’t force anything and be hasty. I want it to be for something meaningful in my life and for those around me. It has only been Month 1, so stay tuned.
- How did your career in Leadership and Technology come to be? I have a blog and a video going into details about this. Check this out. Here is a snippet as well! ” I am going to talk to you about how to transform your thinking and outputs to become a leader and technology manager of your choice. That could be in strategic innovation, virtual reality, applications, software, design. “
- How do you find inspiration? Next to my night-stand, I have a journal titled “Be Inspired Journal”. I use this journal to write towards goals in life. Very rarely do I read back to what I wrote, but when I do I find happiness in what I wrote about in that moment.
- I also often think about My all-time favorite book, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. Read some of the quotes from the book to find inspiration within you.
- Did you know you would be selected? Nope, I just submitted and didn’t give it another thought. The recipients and I asked each other so many questions to try to deduce if there was a method to selecting us. We think we help represent different demographics and backgrounds in America.
- How can I contact you? Follow my blogs! There is a mailing list to get notified each time I post. Drop me a comment!
- Reach out via Twitter @Lamia_Glam_Tech
“We are travelers on a cosmic journey,stardust,swirling and dancing in the eddies and whirlpools of infinity. Life is eternal. We have stopped for a moment to encounter each other, to meet, to love, to share.This is a precious moment. It is a little parenthesis in eternity.”Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist