CREC Project News and Updates

Happy 4th of July!

July 3, 2024

by Marie Xu

July 4 is a day of joy to celebrate the founding of a new nation and the global creation of the American ideal.  There are lots of American flags and speeches about patriotism, but it’s always good to look at yourself through someone else’s eyes.  Thanks to Marie Xu who offers her thoughts about what it means to be an American and to be in America.

Here are her thoughts about the celebration of U.S. independence.

“248 years ago, under the leadership of the founding fathers, thirteen colonies declared independence from the British monarchy and signed the Declaration of Independence. The famous quote from the Preamble of the Declaration of Independence, which says “All men are created equal” resonates not only nationwide but also outside of the United States, illustrating the core value of this country. In this spirit, I would like to share my immigrant experience with you. Because for me, July 4th is more than just a holiday: it celebrates freedom and the American Dream, which can sometimes be elusive for many of us who arrived as recent immigrants.

I came to the US at the age of 15 with two suitcases to attend a boarding school in California. Although I didn’t yet grasp the concept of the American Dream, I was relieved that I wouldn’t need to take daily tests for each subject and be overwhelmed by homework and exams. I was also finally able to browse YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and other apps that were unavailable to me back home.

In my senior year at UC San Diego, I systematically studied – and finally began to understand – the American Dream and meritocracy in a sociology class, taught by a professor who fled Communist oppression in Hungary during the 1980s. We explored these concepts through various readings, movies, and robust discussions with peers, who were mostly first- and second-generation immigrants and international students. The idea that individuals would be rewarded for their hard work and that hard work would eventually lead to upward social mobility resonated with me and my classmates.

In grad school, I revisited this discussion in a policy ethics class at Georgetown. Most of my classmates, including the professor, had been in this country for several generations, so they were not fully able to grasp how much my classmates and I appreciated the ideal of the American dream. While I have thoroughly enjoyed my experience here, I have also encountered some bumps in the road, especially while navigating the complicated and somewhat stressful immigration system in this country.

Here at CREC, we are all descendants of, or are ourselves, immigrants, as are the clients we serve. With the notable exception of those ancestors who were forced to arrive due to enslavement, most of our parents, and ancestors, came to this country to seek a better life, one filled with life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It takes great courage to leave everything behind and start from scratch, including learning to speak a new language. As a foreign national, I encourage everyone to take some time to be thankful for the opportunity to live in this land. Enjoy the fireworks and family gatherings!”

Enjoy the break and don’t forget to eat some apple pie. You know how American that is!