I think that sometimes people misunderstand what motivates me to learn about other people and cultures. To some, this interest appears a little disloyal to the country of my birth, the United States of America, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Like a lot of people, I don’t think I really understood what it meant to be an American before I left the country. Until I was forced to consider how Americans are perceived – both good and bad – I never really questioned what my nationality meant to me.
The opportunity to talk to people in the comfort of their own countries about the United States made me realize that beyond the freedom that we often take for granted, America is an important symbol of acceptance. In too many places around the world, the “wrong” last name, facial features, religion, or heritage can be a death sentence. But in the United States, we mingle relatively well and relatively unconcernedly with each other. At least, that’s the goal.
I have benefited from a family background that includes Revolutionary War soldiers and young men and women who immigrated to the U.S. in the early 1900s. This background has given me an appreciation for our country’s long history as well as in the recent immigrants who enrich our country through their unique cultures.
In my opinion, learning about other people, countries, religions, and cultures – and teaching my child about them – reaffirms what I believe to be the best things about being an American: the courage to welcome diverse people to our country, the kindness to assist them in their transition, and the knowledge that this diversity strengthens the country I love.
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”