This week I applied for a visa to study abroad in Spain.
I compiled my application, passport, letters from Duke, money order, and photos into a folder and headed to the post office.
Now I’ll wait 2-4 weeks. While there’s certainly a chance that my application can get denied, I have to admit that I’m not really worried about it.
I can’t say the same about the clients that come through the doors of Catholic Legal Services. Even if their application is perfect, there is no guarantee. And on top of that, it can take months or even years before their status is granted.
I couldn’t help but think about the power that my U.S. passport holds, in addition to the three stamped letters from Duke. Two powerful institutions backing my name and application.
As a U.S. citizen, the world is open to me. I can travel with ease between countries, and embassies are widely available.
But what if things were different? What if my family had never immigrated from Cuba when they did?
I think about the struggles that millions of migrants face daily—waiting for an answer or status that may never come.
I think about what it would be like to live in a country where leaving is forbidden.
As I prepare to study in a new country, I am reminded of what a privilege it is to be able to do so. I know that I will walk the streets, not fearful of being targeted or questioned. I know that I’ll have a place to stay and resources when I arrive. I know that I am willingly leaving my country for a fun and exciting experience rather than a life or death choice.