The New American Dream: An immigrant’s story
Nathalie Nahas Cortas in her home in Broward County, Florida. Jolie Puidokas/Marketplace
Nathalie Nahas Cortas has a master’s degree in international business, is fluent in several different languages and has had years of work experience. An employer’s dream, right?
“Once they know they have to work with you a little more on paperwork, they don’t want to deal with it. Why not have an American do the same thing you do without me working on your paperwork?”
And all that paperwork is required because Cortas is an immigrant.
She saved money for ten years in her native Venezuela before she was able to move to South Florida to further her studies at Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale. “In Venezuela, education is not one of our strength. For me, education is very important.”
And for Cortas, South Florida was the place that made the most sense to settle. “Florida is very international. And I have a professor that says as a joke, ‘What’s the closest country to America. Florida is the closest country to America.’” She jokes that if she moved to Missouri, she’d be the only Venezuelan in the state.
But she may soon have to leave Florida. Cortas graduated and that complicates her status here in America. She either has to re-enroll in school or find a company willing to hire her and keep her here in the US.
“Venezuela is not a choice. Any other place, but not back to Venezuela.” She says going back to Venezuela would be the same thing as never having had left. “So… why?”
Cortas wants to contribute in a meaningful way to a company that needs her ability to communicate in English, Spanish and Arabic. She wants to use her business experience to make a company stronger. She says that it makes sense for businesses to hire foreigners and that bringing diversity into a company will always help enhance the office, not take anything away from the working experience.
But mostly, she just wants what most people in this country want. To live the American dream.
“America is the land of opportunity. I thought it was going to be a little easier to find a job. But there are jobs. There are a lot of opportunities out there. They are there.”