As millions of Americans celebrate the 4th of July holiday, many don't know what it feels like to live anywhere else. But one Lafayette chef and businessman, who grew up in Bangladesh, does.
At 19, Ema Haq left his native Bangladesh with essentially nothing, in search of an American education. And when he arrived in Lafayette, he found a new place to call home. His first semester, it was a college friend who showed Haq true southern hospitality.
“I never imagined after three months after coming here, I'd be sitting down at the dinner table having a thanksgiving feast,” said Haq.
Haq's first Thanksgiving was at Barbara Jardell's home. She's now considered his “Cajun mother” who's been with him every step of the way.
“He's very blessed. He was in the right place at the right time, knew the right people, and was willing to take risks,” said Jardell.
And it was Acadiana's Cajun culture that shaped his future. An award-winning chef, Haq owns two restaurants and an off-shore catering company. Now 30 years later, he's living the American dream.
“There's no better place in the world, in the universe to fulfill your dream than America,” said Haq.
Haq's 4th of July was spent cooking with his family. His son Zadid was also born in Bangladesh, but is proud to call himself an American as well.
“It's just an amazing feeling because honestly when I go back home and I come back here, I see how blessed I am and I can see the fruits of my dad's labor,” said Zadid.
“I just feel blessed to be in America. I love to be an American and I'm proud to be an American,” said Haq.