Note: The Skinny blog is written by Rick Smith, editor and co-founder of Local Tech Wire and business editor of WRAL.com.

DURHAM, N.C. – As we prepare for Thanksgiving, take a moment and answer this question: Are you truly thankful for the blessing received to live in the United States and to enjoy the freedom we enjoy that was purchased with the blood and sacrifice of so many people in the past, today in foreign fields far away, and in battles to come?

Vivek Wadhwa, a friend and entrepreneur whom The Skinny has written about often and whose writing often appears in Local Tech Wire, is certainly among the ranks of those who take nothing America offers for granted. In fact, he strives resolutely to seek more opportunities for others – especially immigrants and foreign-born students and entrepreneurs – who want to realize the American dream as he has. Now a scholar and researcher at Duke and Harvard rather than a businessman, he travels the world fighting for changes in immigration and publishing research that often runs counter to conventional wisdom. Yes, freedom of speech means a great deal to Vivek.

Last weekend, he spoke to students at an Indian cultural event staged at Duke about his own life, his blessings and the challenges the U.S. faces today from his homeland of India as well as China.

“The Duke event was the most amazing cultural event I’ve been to in America,” Vivek told The Skinny. “It was nothing less than any professional entertainment extravaganza. You had Indian, Chinese and American students dancing almost perfectly to the tunes of Bollywood music. They were dancing the traditional Indian Bangra and Dandia dances. Another big surprise: that they were sold out for 2 days in a row and more than 5,000 people attended this event!”

The Skinny asked Vivek for a copy of the speech, but he delivered it contemporaneously.

Wanting to get a better idea about what he had to say, the Skinny asked him for a summary. Fortunately, he obliged.

Read, enjoy – and be thankful that America is our home.

“When I went to Public School in New York City in the late 60’s, I was ashamed to be an Indian. Children would make fun of my race and religion. In those days, parents used to tell their children to think of the ‘starving Indians’ before wasting the food on their plates. Indians were looked on as beggars and snake-charmers.

“Move forward a generation. Today, my children feel proud to be an Indian. They take pride in their heritage and culture. When Americans look at Indians, they think they are smart high-tech CEOs, doctors or IT workers. Parents tell their children to study more math and science or the Indians are going to eat their lunch.

“Then I talked about my research which showed that India and China were rising. India was becoming a global R&D hub. This is happening as multi-nationals set up their own R&D operations in India and partner with local shops. Both the Palm Pre smart phone and the Amazon Kindle, two of the hottest consumer electronics devices on the market, have key components designed in India. Intel designed its six-core Xeon processor in India. IBM has over 100,000 employees in India. A large number of these are building Big Blue’s most sophisticated software products. Cisco is developing cutting edge networking technologies for futuristic ‘intelligent cities’ in Bangalore. Adobe, Cadence, Oracle, Microsoft and most of the large software companies are developing mainstream products in India.

“Equally important are the arrival of Indian multi-nationals who are tackling global markets, such as Tata with its dirt cheap Nano car that the company is now positioning for a European market entry and Reva, which recently announced it was planning to build an electric car factory in New York state to address the U.S. market for electric vehicles.

“China has gone in one generation from being a third-world country to being on track to become an advanced economy. It looks like a modern version of Europe. What they have achieved is nothing less than amazing – never before in the history of mankind has such a transformation occurred so fast.

“Meanwhile, flawed immigration policies are leaving foreign students from these countries little choice but to return home. The good news for Indian and Chinese students is that they have better opportunities at home and their careers may progress faster. But their departure will be a big loss for the U.S. I hope American political leaders wake up and see the light.

“The Duke event was the most amazing cultural event I’ve been to in America. It was nothing less than any professional entertainment extravaganza. You had Indian, Chinese and American students dancing almost perfectly to the tunes of Bollywood music. They were dancing the traditional Indian Bangra and Dandia dances. Another big surprise: that they were sold out for 2 days in a row and more than 5,000 people attended this event!

“Duke administrators don’t seem to know the magic that is happening on their campus. This was clear by the absence of top administrators and faculty from the event. They should be hyping the heck out of it. It shows how diverse Duke is.”

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Vivek.

God bless America.

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