The plan was to return to India after finishing one’s graduate degree.: Becoming Minnesotan

Vasant Sukhatme, c.2006.
  • Name - Vasant Sukhatme
  • Gender - Male
  • Generation - First Generation American / Immigrant
  • Date of Interview - 10.11.2004
  • SILC dance troupe at the Sikh Gurdwara, Fridley, Minnesota, April 6, 2002.

    Asian Indian, Education, Family, Work

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    Essential Question

    Coming to America: What did coming to America symbolize for this person?

    Push & Pull Factors: Why did this person come to the U.S.?

    Words to look for

    Green Card

    Background Information

    Although there is also a good educational system in India, many Indian students come to the U.S. for college or graduate school.  They are granted a student visa for the years they are in school, but many also end up staying in the U.S. if they find work there after they graduate.  In order to be granted an extended visa or Green Card to stay in the U.S. he or she must have a specialized skill that is needed in the U.S. in a business or university. 

    To learn more about Asian Indian history and culture, visit our Asian Indian Community page.

    • Chapter 1

    Download Vasant Sukhatme 2
    2:3 Minutes | 1.96Mb


    Narrator: Vasant Sukhatme (VS)

    Interviewer: Polly Sonifer (PS)

    PS:  When you came to here to get your degrees and then you ended up marrying, was the plan to stay here and work here or was the plan to go back to India?

    VS:  No, not at all. The plan was to return to India after finishing one’s graduate degree.  At the time that I was close to finishing my PhD, since I wanted to be in an academic environment, I applied at several academic institutions in India while I was applying to positions here.  I just happened to find a job here in Washington, which seemed very promising and which I liked, so I took that up. 

    PS:  Was that an academic position as well?  Oh, that was the World Bank.

    VS:  Yes, it was the World Bank, but I was in the Research Department, so I was not sort of doing the operational kind of work that is done at the bank.  I was more in the research group.  After that, I wanted to be in an academic environment, so I started applying to various colleges and universities.  And it so happened that I got a good offer from Macalester, so that’s what brought me here.

    PS:  Okay.  By this time, you were a U.S. citizen already?

    VS:  No, not yet.  I’d become a - quote, unquote - Green Card holder.  That was more not because of me applying for a Green Card, but because I sort of rode on the coattails of my wife.  She’s the one who got the Green Card, and I was her dependent or somebody who sort of tagged along for Green Card purposes.

    That arose because my wife worked for the U.S. Department of Labor, and she had a certain set of skills that the government needed at that time.  So the research institution is what sponsored her for a Green Card, and so she was the primary applicant, and I was the - quote, unquote - dependent in the application.  That’s the story on the immigration thing. 

    Related Glossary Terms


     Adjective:  Relating to school or studies.


    Noun:  One who applies for something.


    Noun:  A verbal or written request for assistance or employment or admission to a school.


    Noun:  1. A person that is a legally recognized as a member of a state or country, with associated rights and obligations.  2. A person that is a legally recognized resident of a city or town.  3. A resident of any particular place to which the subject feels to belong.


    Noun:  A person who legally relies on another person for financial support.


    Noun:  A particular political or social setting, arena or condition.

    Green Card

    Noun:  Common name for a United States permanent resident card, which serves as proof of a non-citizen's legal right to live and work in the U.S. permanently.


    Noun:  An established organisation, especially one dedicated to education, public service, culture or the care of the destitute, poor, etc.


    Adjective:  Of or relating to the act or process of operating or functioning.


    Noun:  The highest degree awarded by a university; literally means "Doctor of Philosophy."


    Adjective:  First or main.


    Minnesota Historical Society. Becoming Minnesotan: Stories of Recent Immigrants and Refugees. September 2010. Institute of Museum and Library Services. [Date of access].
    nid: 634