Samuel Tesfay certainly did not expect his pursuit of the American Dream would land him working in the kitchen at the American Hebrew Academy at first.

By Dan Andros (Faithwire) |

Samuel Tesfay has extra reason to be thankful this holiday weekend. It was the very first for he and his family here in the United States, and oh what a journey it has been to get here.

It began where Samuel was born and raised – in Mekelle, Ethiopia.

Samuel always dreamed of bigger opportunities, the kind not readily available in northern Ethiopia.

But with his tenacious work ethic and humble disposition, he is the living embodiment of Milton Berle’s mantra “if opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” It was only a matter of time before something really good happened.

But the road wasn’t easy.

All throughout his youth, Samuel worked hard and applied himself at his studies. He eventually earned a Master’s in Analytical Chemistry from Addis Ababa University and a Bachelor’s in Chemistry from Mekelle University. Impressive, but that alone wasn’t going to be enough – he still needed a ‘win’ the U.S. Green Card Lottery.

In January 2013, that’s exactly what happened.

There was only one issue: in the time it took for Samuel to hit the green card jackpot, he’d already married the love of his life, Tilanesh, and she was four months pregnant with their first child. There’s an unenviable situation: career gold awaits, but it’s thousands of miles and a massive ocean away and you’d have to leave your pregnant wife behind to chase it.

Oh, and there’s no guarantee of success. What would you do?

Samuel made the gut wrenching decision to pursue opportunity, hoping and praying she and their growing child would eventually be able to meet them in the states. He had a long plane ride to contemplate this decision, no doubt the image of his pregnant wife standing at the airport burned in his memory.

But this was the land of opportunity, the land of plenty – surely no sooner than stepping foot on this career rich soil would the offers start flowing in. Even in America, opportunity doesn’t usually knock – you’ve got to build the doors.

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Even though Samuel had a wealth of teaching experience, he landed on hard times trying to land a gig in his field of analytical chemistry.

“I came to Greensboro (North Carolina) because I had family in the area,” Samuel says. This highly educated, highly experienced chemist and teacher certainly did not expect his pursuit of the American Dream would land him working in the kitchen at the American Hebrew Academy. But that’s exactly what happened.

“When I came to Greensboro the plan was initially to go to school, but it was not as easy as I thought — my wife was pregnant and I needed to work to support my family so I looked for any kind of job I could find.”

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