Space flight has become routine enough so that few of us take the time to
impressed by the feat of strapping folks in a small cabin on to several
thousand pounds of explosives, catapulting them beyond the atmosphere, and
bringing them back to earth safely. For many of us, it is only the
media coverage of disaster that puts the space program back into our
On board the Columbia when it disintegrated on re-entry was the first
Indian-American woman in space--Kalpana Chawla. The disaster ended a
remarkable story of immigration, but like space flight itself, the
remarkable stories of immigrants are routine in this nation of immigrants.
Ms. Chawla's family (on her father's side) barely survived the violence
accompanied the partitioning of India and Pakistan. Penniless after forced
migration, her father scratched out a living in a small town in the North
India. Eventually, he became a successful businessman with not much time
for his youngest daughter. Ms. Chawla graduated top of her class from
Punjab University and wanted to continue her studies in the US, but her
father was not available to grant his permission for her to go to the US
to study. When her father finally did visit her at her university, it was
just five days before enrollment for Fall classes at the University of
Texas, where Ms. Chawla had been accepted for a master's program in
aeronautical engineering. She got her father's blessing, but she didn't
have a passport or a visa. All that was arranged in time to get her
enrolled in the US.
One wonders what would have happened if she was making her entry to the
today? This woman, who became a hero in the US and India, had enough
determination to graduate at the top of her class in a male-dominated
came to the US to continue her studies, and flew twice on the space
shuttle. Would she have had her determination snuffed out by an
bureaucracy that now views foreign students with suspicion and mistrust?
National Immigration Forum
Share this page
Bookmark this page
The leading immigration law publisher - over 50000 pages of free information!
© Copyright 1995- American Immigration LLC, ILW.COM