The American Opportunity
This is about how my family shaped my American Creed through their story and beliefs of how they succeeded.
The United States is ranked number one in the world for immigration. In 2015, 3.5 million people came to the US for a long term stay and approximately 8.5 million people came for a short term stay. There are many reasons why people come into the US. Work, to be with family, schooling, safety, diversity, and more (“People”). I am a first generation immigrant with my Grandfather and Father coming from Sweden to the US many years ago. My Grandfather came to work in 1984. My Father came as a foreign exchange student as a junior in high school in 1985. After many years of being there, they had chosen to become US citizens along with the approximate 7.3 million others (Daniella Silva).
The first time my Grandfather came to the “US was in 1965 as a young ambassador for Sweden on a program called The experiment in international living [...] I liked the US very much and was very keen on returning, so when I got an offer to work as technical director at Flygt Corp. for 3 years I accepted” (Gunnar). Until the Summer of 1985, he was alone until David, my Father, and Clea, my aunt, came over. They “wanted to stay here and go to high school for a year and I said it was OK if they both stayed since I was traveling and I wanted them to look after each other”. Clea returned to Sweden to go to college but David wanted to go to college here. After a few years, he bought a house and started living part time between the US and Sweden.
“After 30 years [of living] in the US, I thought it was time. There is not a huge difference between having a green card and being a citizen. The main thing is that you can vote” (Gunnar). Many people strive to become citizens of the United States. Becoming a citizen was not just a way for a person to vote, it was a way to express their freedom, which is what my Grandfather says is the greatest appeal to being an American. “For us, I think there is a higher degree of freedom, especially economic freedom, here. If you work hard here in the US the reward is much higher than in Sweden where the reward often is negligent. [...] freedom of speech is also much greater here than back in Europe”. Many people agree that America has more freedom than any other nation, and that is the largest appeal to them.
My Father came to the US on a vacation in the Summer of 1985 and wanted “to ‘study abroad’ for a year during high school” (David) with his sister. It was also “a great opportunity to go somewhere else, improve my English, and experience American culture”. After high school, he asked to go to college in the states. My Grandfather said yes but only to a state school. He was later accepted into Uconn and stayed for six years and got a masters in mechanical engineering. He got a job and worked for 20 years there. He decided to become a citizen in 2016. “In my case, I waited until Sweden allowed dual citizens. Becoming a U.S. citizen was pretty cool. I really enjoyed learning more about U.S. history as it helps put things in perspective in terms of values and how this nation was formed”.
According to my Father, there are two great appeals to being an American. The first is “this country is so diverse, it doesn’t mean that one will adopt the ‘American culture’ as it is stereotyped” (David). The American stereotypes are usually “overweight, not the smartest, and generally happy”. These are “obviously inaccurate”. This means that for an immigrant, they do not need to be worried about being othered. The other appeal is because they do not get othered, “this country allows for an opportunity to work hard and achieve whatever goals one sets for oneself”. This opportunity is shared with all immigrants like my Grandfather and Father. From a high schooler in a completely new place, to college, to an employee, and now a US citizen. Everyone has this opportunity that he had to succeed. “That is what’s appealing and great about America”. “I think above all American is a symbol of opportunity and individual freedoms”. Everyone has an opportunity and freedom to do what they will. There is freedom of speech that allows everyone to have an opinion. With that, “This country is very fragmented now and I think the political environment is challenging and pretty divisive”.
I was born and raised in here in the US and never moved out. To me, being American means that I have the opportunity to work hard and achieve the next greater step like my family has done. My family has given me the opportunity by living in the United States and allowing me to go to a good school. This would be different because if I were to be in another country, I may not have had the opportunities and freedoms I have here.
Many immigrants come from other countries and try to start over with the opportunity that America gives them. Unlike the US, Countries like Sweden are very limiting in rewards of hard work and do not offer the opportunity for people to work hard. In Sweden, racial and economic diversity is lesser than the US. This means that there are less immigrants and the wages between jobs and positions are far less in Sweden than there are in the US. With the advantages that the US gives, American Creed gives everyone an opportunity to achieve the American dream. My American creed is impacted by my family because they have proved that it is possible for anyone to embrace their opportunity to work hard and make a new chance for themselves because they will not be othered for being diverse.
David. Personal interview. 31 May 2019.
Gunnar. Personal interview. 30 May 2019.
Silva, Daniella. “Citizenship Application Backlog 'Skyrocketed' to near 730,000 under Trump, Report Finds.” NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group, 2 July 2018, www.nbcnews.com/news/latino/citizenship-application-backlog-skyrocketed-under-trump-report-finds-n888146.
“Why Do People Come to the US?” US Immigration Report, usafacts.org/reports/immigration.