Why I’m Proud to Be An American After Living Abroad
I am Proud to be an American. This is especially true after living in multiple countries and experiencing different cultures. It pains me that there are people in this beautiful country who do not understand this, especially those who have not experienced the way of life in other countries. The United States in the last 241 years has attributed to the advancement of human beings more than any other country in the history of man. We have not only invented, but implemented mass production, electricity, modern medicine, technology, space exploration, etc. Socially speaking, we are one of the few countries in the world where everyone has an opportunity to succeed, especially with the onset of the internet. The quality of life in the US, even for the poorest of our citizens, is still a much higher standard than the majority of the world, and we give a lot. You will notice our culture, companies, and influence in every part of the world and Americans are almost always highly respected. I understand we are not perfect and we still have a long way to go until we overcome many of the social, economic, and environmental issues we are facing, but nowhere else in the world is there such rapid progress and potential to solve these problems.
The next natural progression after the acceptance and realization of this is “why?” Why has America, more than any other country, been able to progress human kind as a whole so rapidly and change the world on such a large scale? I believe it is due to culture. American culture is a very interesting dynamic. It is a combination of a greater macro-culture of American values, dreams, and visions mixed with thousands of micro-cultures from all around the world. It forms the melting pot that is America which has enabled success and progress never seen before in the history of mankind. For the purpose of this article, I will focus only on the macro-culture. What is ingrained in us as Americans, from the day we are born, is the belief and value that “we can do anything.” Our culture allows us to dream and shows us the possibilities of dreamers before us. We look up to Henry Ford, Neil Armstrong, Martin Luther King, Thomas Edison, Steve Jobs, and see the endless possibilities. We realize that in America you don’t need to be born here to be successful; people like Elon Musk and Albert Einstein, who immigrated from other countries, flourished in America. As Americans, we believe anything is possible and when someone tells us something is impossible, we see it as a challenge, not a barrier. We believe in hard work, directness, and honesty.
I didn’t understand this growing up. Being raised in America, I only saw the flaws with our country. The racism, income disparity, school shootings, violence, and everything the media pushes down our throats on a daily basis to increase their viewership. It wasn’t until I spent the last 2 years living in Colombia that I began to understand why America is great. I moved down there in early 2015 to start a business with a Colombian businessman I met through a mutual connection. I was young - 25 years old at the time. I had just ended my time serving in the Army and was considering my options of what to do with my life. Multiple high paying offers from major corporations were before me, but the 9-5 cubicle life invoked no excitement and I wanted to try something different while I was still young. After careful consideration and asking myself, “What’s the worst that could happen,” I went for it and moved to Bogota, Colombia. Upon arrival, I was fascinated with the country. The people seemed so friendly, the culture was festive, the food was very cheap and fresh, and the city was full of life and laughter and partying - lots of partying.
Being ignorant and fresh out of the Army where honesty, integrity, and responsibility had been ingrained in us, I assumed the same American values and cultural norms I had experienced all my life were similar in Bogota. Because I didn’t understand Colombian culture, I learned the hard way that American values and culture are not throughout. In business, I believe three of the most important values are responsibility, honesty, and trust. I’ve continued to see these three values as being central to what makes America such a great nation. In Colombia, life is different. Their pride is in fun, partying, kindness and family. Honesty, trust, and responsibility are second to this. While this was a refreshing way to see life in a different perspective, it made doing business extremely difficult. It makes economic progress as a whole extremely difficult and gave me a new perspective on the importance of American culture to the progress of our nation.
After my experience living in Colombia and learning about a different culture, I returned to the US with a new sense of pride and respect for my country and culture. I saw that as Americans we love to dream. We love to think of all the possibilities and how we can change the world, and we believe we can. These beliefs turn into actions and methods of creating livelihoods for our society and global growth. I learned a lot in those two years and I plan to travel a lot more as I still have much to learn, but I am now more proud than ever to call myself an American.
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