The American Dream is alive and well – Thoughts of an immigrant
Photo: Pablo by Buffer
This post was recently shared through Dr Tom Hill’s weekly electronic magazine (scroll to end of webpage to sign up for receiving his Eaglezine). Happy 4th of July!
These days following the news and social media can be depressing, right? The world news currently are not very positive. Here at home we unfortunately seem to be quite divided over some real and some not so real issues. Despite all of this I am hopeful and upbeat that we will once again be unified in helping each other live the American Dream. There is barely a week when folks ask me why one Earth I am so enthusiastic about living here in the U.S.A. and life in general. That is really easy to answer. We are blessed beyond measure living in a country that nurtures a culture of inclusion, tolerance, collaboration, and it guaranties liberties that I have not found in any other country I have either visited or lived in. The only person in my way of progress and dreams is myself. Many helpful people and organizations are around who can assist you achieving them. Here is a little bit of my journey to becoming an American citizen.
For me it makes me think of my first Thanksgiving in the U.S.A. – and Phyllis. That was 1989, the year I arrived at Philly from my native Germany for what I thought would only be for a 3 year adventure. Phyllis was a friend of a friend who knew a friend of mine at the company I still work for today. A recent divorcee, she rented a room of her little condo to me. I was thankful for having a place to stay. The room was big enough that the only things I had to my name were 2 suitcases full of clothes that did not even make a dent in the room’s closets.
New to country and language I knew no one. She was so warm-hearted and explained a lot of colloquialisms and also taught me everything from laundry to going grocery shopping. I had been in the country only for a few months when the Phyllis asked me if I wanted to stick around with her family for the Thanksgiving holiday. I had to ask her what we will be thankful for and what the holiday was all about. She tried explaining this to me as best as she could. My command of the English language still had a long way to go at that time.
Little did that prepare me for that great cold Thursday in the fall of 1989. I was astounded how many family members and friends showed up. Two big tables were moved together and everyone helped in preparing the food and table for the feast. Then I saw my first turkey. Wow! I had never seen anything like it. When all the food was set on the table I thought to myself that there was enough for a whole football team to show up and still have enough food for everyone.
After saying Grace her family and friends asked me all kinds of questions as to where I was from and what I was doing here in the States. They did not know it, but I was so humbled by that. At that time, Germans were still not all that welcome in various areas in Europe and people there would avoid you and actually make a point to exclude you. Many people’s thinking and actions were still affected by the horrible Nazi times surrounding WWII. Here a former foe was sitting amongst folks whose relatives most likely had fought mine in one or both world wars. Instead of hostility and the usual ignorance I received nothing but warmth, inclusion, and most of all a genuine interest in a total stranger! Wow! Who are these people and would more people act like these folks?
In the many years to follow I found the vast majority of people to hold the same core values. Work took me to visit 44 States so far and across the board I met genuinely nice and genuinely warm hearted people. I began to ponder if it was not time to play a more intricate part of the American society. Who I am is due to my German upbringing, education, and of course my family and friends back there. Who I can be though, I owe to America. I went from being a mechanics apprentice in Germany to becoming a management team member of a successful manufacturing company here stateside. Sure, it took a lot of work to get there, but I am eternally grateful and thankful to this country and its people for providing the most important part: opportunities. It was time taking the arduous path becoming an American citizen. I wanted to help perpetuate helping others pursue their dreams and I could only do this if I could exercise my right to vote.
My family was with me the say of getting sworn in as an American citizen back in 2010. It was such a special day to me and I am sure that the other more than 40 new citizens next to me felt the same way. I was hopeful then as I am today that we will put our political views and differences aside and figure out solutions to our everyday issues. I am confident that our struggles will unify us more than separate us. We are a good people and the world and our kids need us, one nation, under God, indivisible with Liberty and Justice for all. Blessed beyond measure.