~What It Means To be American
I imagine tomorrow I will be very emotional and proud. Barack Obama will be sworn in as the first black president of the United States. What a proud moment for the United States of America!
I have always been proud to be an American. It is something that was instilled in me by my father and mother. To be American means that I am free and fortunate to have the opportunities that I have. Personally I feel had I not been born here I would not have the same freedom available to me. And being that I am a first generation American I do not take it for granted. Being American to me means I have the freedom to speak my mind, I have the freedom to wake up and ask " now what do I want to do with my day?" and do what I decide. I have the freedom to worship God in the religion I choose or not at all. I have the freedom to dream and work towards my dreams.
When I was born I was raised in the projects in Casa Blanca, Riverside. Later my parents where able to move us out and in to a small 2 bedroom house we rented. I was 6 when we moved. My mother was very protective that we get the best upbringing she could afford us and so I was bused out to a school where I was the only Hispanic child in the class. I did not speak English and would not be fluent until the 4th grade. ( my dad was adamant I not be taught in Spanish...so no ESL for me)I remember being in class in 3rd grade and my teacher saying the word church, I raised my hand and asked "what is church?"and all the kids laughed. Now, I knew what a church was, I went to church every Sunday and to catechism every Saturday. Two of my aunts are nuns. I just didn't know what the word meant. I also remember being in first grade and needing to use the restroom or get a drink of water and not knowing how to ask. I would listen closely at how the other children asked then I would raise my hand and mimic what they said. & I remember my teacher Mrs. Ibes(who looked like Samantha from bewitched =)..) saying "very good Lucia, very good!". I cant say that I have had traumatic experiences with racism...but I do remember a little boy named Perry taunting me in the 4th grade and saying " I went to the ponderosa for dinner last night..what diiiiiiiiiiiid you eat? Beans and rice?" & well he was right I had eaten beans and rice & for some reason I felt embarrassed of that. ( I still eat beans & rice all the time, except now its brown rice instead of Spanish rice for the health benefits ;)
Most recently I remember going to Paris and wanting to purchase a yoplait yogurt from the hotel kitchen and being told I wasn't allowed to purchase one. ( I was traveling under a specific package) a fellow American who heard me asking in my high school french, got me one and then I was given a tongue lashing in french. Something along the lines of "you Americans are so entitled and feel you can have what ever you want." I love traveling and missing my country. :P
I wish I could stay home tomorrow and take the day off to participate in the inaugural event, but part of being American is that we work hard and all the time. We don't take siestas and businesses are not closed from 2-4 for a nap. & you know what? That's alright with me, because I love my work ;)
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