Your past doesn't matter as long as you focus on the future and what's in front of you. Equal opportunity is an important American value that people want.

People move to America with the hope of living the American Dream. Countless people have moved here to better their lives and get a good education in order to succeed at life. In the PBS film American Creed, Condoleezza Rice, former U.S. Secretary of State and professor at Stanford, states, “It doesn’t matter where you come from, it only matters where you’re going.” Rice believes that you are able to succeed at anything if you put your heart to it. Your past doesn’t matter as long as you focus on the future and what’s in front of you.

In a PBS interview about the American Creed film, Ron Felton, an Eastern Sectional Director of NAACP, states, “I think the American Dream for a lot of people is being successful, and success can be measured in many ways.” There are several different ways to interpret the American Dream but, according to Felton, most people interpret it as being successful. People come to America to live this dream of being successful and having a better life than what they had in their home country. They believe America has a lot more to offer, like equal opportunity.

Also in documentary, Leila Janah, the CEO and founder of SAMA Group, says, “People come to this country to make their dreams a reality.” A lot of people believe that when they come to America they will be able to succeed and have a happy life. Janah feels the most important American value is “Equal opportunity, I think that’s one of the cornerstones of our identity as a nation.” Equal opportunity is an important American value in our country. The people who immigrate to America are coming here for equal opportunity that isn’t offered in their home country. People want to be able to succeed, have equal opportunity, and build a healthy life. By moving to America they believe they are capable of that.

Eric Liu, founder of Citizen University, is a second generation American. His parents moved here to pursue a higher education and Eric grew up in Poughkeepsie, New York. Liu says, “It was this real American Dream.” He grew up well-educated and even went to college. He imagines how different his life would be had he been born in a different country. Liu’s life after college has been in public work either working in government or working to promote political engagement.

Immigrant Rita Neja, a medical physician with the Indo-American Association of Nepa, says, “I was never discriminated as being anybody else or rather just being a United States citizen. That’s the way it should be.” Neja has been in the United States since 1971. She came to America to do all her training here and she also grew up in America. She has spent more years here than in her home country of India. Neja is proud of America and thankful for her life here. This is important because it shows that you can succeed and be successful wherever you go.

This shows that it doesn’t matter where you come from or where you’ve been. You can go as far as you want no matter your past or where you came from. As long as you set your heart to reach your goals and believe, you will succeed. The American Dream is to succeed and be successful, and anyone who is in America can do that as long as they believe. 

Columbus High School American Creed - Continuing the Conversation

This group consists of student responses to the American Creed documentary from PBS and Citizen Film.

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