Wednesday, July 4, 2012

freedom and independence

Earlier today I had a conversation with someone who asked me, "so how are you celebrating the Fourth of July?" Nonchalantly, I responded, "well, I'm not too big on the Fourth of July... It's an American holiday." Granted, I was in the middle of dusting and doing 3 loads of laundry.

But, I ended up thinking a little more about it. The truth is, my not being a born-and-bred American does not mean that the Fourth of July isn't important in my life. I came here nine years ago in the hopes of professional growth and opportunities. And without a doubt, I have grown tremendously here. I am incredibly thankful for every opportunity, even every challenge and setback that made me who I am today.

Perhaps my recent change of status to "permanent resident"  helps me feel more "free". I have to admit that after recently traveling overseas (finally!) and returning to the US, it felt great to go through immigrations at the airport with just a passport and greencard in hand, without having to pull out document after document that proves our legal status. I'm grateful that I was able to experience this freedom after what seemed to be a several-year journey in uncertainty.

But in the grander scheme of things, I am thankful for so much more. Thankful that I was free to experience higher education with a scholarship, have a fulfilling job, and go through higher education (yet again) in a field/profession of my choosing. I am free to pursue the hobbies and activities I want, be it the arts and culture, volunteering, a social life. I can exercise my independence and I'm free to walk or drive alone, realizing that in some other contexts or cultures women cannot be out unchaperoned. I'm free to go outside and not fear for my safety. I am free to believe what I want to believe, and practice my faith without persecution. I can read what I want to read, say what I want to say - verbally or in writing. I am free to have my own identity, even as a woman in an ethnic minority.

Despite not being an American, I too am celebrating my freedom today. Because I'm free to make choices and to evolve into the person I want to be. I am free to create my future.

photo by Jenni from Story of My Life

Sure, I miss home and my home country terribly. But just like Americans, today I will say: Happy Fourth of July!

May we not take our freedoms for granted...

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anne said...

well said!

i didn’t celebrate 4th of july either, but am grateful of the same things you wrote about here. and in that sense, i can celebrate my own independence that immigrating to the US has given me!

Jenni@Story of My Life said...

This was beautiful, girl! I enjoyed reading it. And what a very aptly placed photo/quote. :)

Mia said...

Thanks, Anne and Jenni!

And Jenni, thanks for letting me re-post your photo!

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