In 1962, getting a full scholarship to Barat College in Illinois to do my undergraduate work was a dream come true. But some of my colleagues didn’t understand why I wanted to leave all the good things I had in my native India. “You have a good job, a good name as a teacher and a good position in the community,” they said. “Why do you want to leave all this and go to the U.S.?” Yes, I was a primary school teacher. Yes, I did have a good position in the community. But to realize my dream of a college education in the United States, I had to leave all that.

I had decided to take a ship from Cochin to New York. My family and relatives had come to see me off. They came on board to see my cabin. We said goodbye, and I watched them go down the precarious rope ladder to wait on shore. Saying goodbye to my father was difficult; I tried hard not to cry. But he was happy to see me set off on my quest.

In about 10 minutes, the siren sounded, the ship pulled anchor and was on its way. I waved back to my relatives, watching each one getting smaller until they were undistinguishable. As the land receded, slowly taking the palm tree filled green coast with it, and the ship headed to the Arabian Sea, I realized that there was no turning back.

Achamma Chandersekaran,


NEW QUERY: Tell us about a time when you granted someone’s wish. If you have a 100 percent true story taken from your own experience concerning this query, send it to or The Washington Post Magazine, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. Include your daytime phone number. Recount your story in 250 words or fewer.