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Chris LoCurto

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February 24, 2012

Life Lessons and Random Observations

February 24, 2012 | By | 22 Comments">22 Comments

Here is a guest post from one of my top commenters, Jane. You can check out her blog at www.GinasMom.com. You can guest post as well! Read how to here.

Through the Eyes of a Newly Minted American 

In only the way kids can, my girls will not let me forget they have been Americans longer than me. Without fail, any mention of nationalities, travel, etc. brings the aforementioned response. “Even though mommy is older than us, we have been Americans for a looooong time, longer than her!”

This past summer, they had several occasions to bring it up, since I celebrated my first anniversary as an American citizen. I grew up inKenya and came here about 15 years ago in pursuit of higher education.

As we celebrated this milestone, I couldn’t help but take stock of what I have learned and how it has helped me to succeed. I would love to share my observations with you.

American Confidence

Americans, including me now, are nothing like what I’d envisioned when I was a little girl running barefoot to school. One year, an American youth group, including a group of basketball players, came to my school on a mission trip. I recall the shock when one guy stood up. He wasn’t standing on a stool but was actually that tall. In awe, I thought, They are so strong, so handsome and so cocky. Through the years, I’ve come to define this as “self-confidence.” It’s critical to being able to succeed in any endeavor. I’m guilty of it, and I love it.

Bargaining Prowess

Depending on their origin, most newly minted Americans are pros at bargaining. Back in Kenya, bargaining or haggling is an essential skill passed on to children through observation and hours of practice at the local markets. I love to haggle, asking things like, “Is that the final price?” It’s a skill all Americans should re-learn and practice a lot.

Freedom of Choice

The freedom of choice available to everyone still astounds me. We have real options. If A doesn’t work, move to B. If B doesn’t work, move to C. You get the idea. I’m not sure how real this is to everybody else, but it’s a reality worth looking into. There is a reason that it’s called “the land of freedom and opportunity.”

Experience is Key, But Include Your Reference Points

In any new situation, experience is a great asset. But I’ve learned to also define the parameters of that experience, especially while making comparisons. Based on the feedback I have received, I now understand the puzzled, and sometimes shocked, looks I get in reaction to the following statements.

  1. I had a very small wedding back in Kenya—about 700 to 800 people. Most of my husband’s family could not travel from England.
  2. All my lower elementary classes were rather small—35 to 40 kids each.
  3. My 30-minute walk to school was very short. Many kids had to walk an hour each way.

Prized Possession

Finally, as a newly minted citizen, one of my most prized possessions is my blue American passport. It allows me to travel with ease, and it gives me the chance to enrich my kids’ lives. They can experience how the rest of the world lives. They’ll learn we do have options here, but there are other options out there, too. There are other ways of doing business or being successful in life.

I love my new country, and I love the opportunities it affords me. But I’m glad to have experienced life in a different environment. It gives me more reference points and makes me appreciate what I have so much more.

Question: How does this change your perspective of our lives as Americans? 

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  • http://www.epreferreds.com/ preferred stocks

    Great post! Being an Americsn and living in this “bubble” of suburbia, I was blown away when visiting Tanzania and Kenya in 2009 & 2010. Seeing “the reference points” Jane mentions takes me back to those experiences.

    • http://www.ginasmom.com/ ginasmom

       @preferred stocks
       I have to ask where exactly did you go to? What towns did you visit? What was the best part of your trip?.

  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

    Thanks for the post Jane! It helped gain a better perspective about US and its people.

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Do you still like us Uma? :-)

      • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

        Of course! I beleive US and Americans are gifted and blessed people on this earth. Though everyone has shortcomings, I feel Americans are the people celebrating meritocracy and more open to all culture than any other people in the world.

        Subject: [closblog] Re: Life Lessons and Random Observations

        • http://www.ginasmom.com ginasmom

          Glad you still like us:):), and you make an interesting observation there.

          • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

            Thanks Gina. It’s my pleasure.

            Subject: [closblog] Re: Life Lessons and Random Observations

  • http://davidburkeblog.com David Burke

    Great post! Being an Americsn and living in this “bubble” of suburbia, I was blown away when visiting Tanzania and Kenya in 2009 & 2010. Seeing “the reference points” Jane mentions takes me back to those experiences. I was there on two separate mission trips and was humbled by how green I was to the world. I am not even sure how to describe it, except that I have never seen so many joyful people and have never experienced worshipping the Lord like I did with the Kenyans and Tanzanians!

    • http://www.ginasmom.com/ ginasmom

      What part of the country did you visit? Curious if you made it my town? What was the best part of your trip?

  • http://www.DavidRobertsons.com/about David Robertson

    It is so good to be reminded of what we have in our country, especially by someone with so much passion & excitement. Thank you for posting!

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Kinda makes you want to be as excited in your own country. :-)

    • http://www.ginasmom.com ginasmom

      Enjoyed writing it as much….. yes we have a lot in this country.

  • http://www.andytraub.com/ Andy Traub

    Thanks for the perspective. It’s always necessary to keep it.

  • http://www.lifeofasteward.com Loren Pinilis

    Wow, what a great post. As one who was born in America, it’s easy to take our cultural heritage for granted. But there are a lot of great things about our country – and great traits (like negotiating) that we could learn from others.

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      It’s crazy how easy it is! We just don’t do it.

    • http://www.ginasmom.com ginasmom

      It’s all about taking the best of both worlds and combining them into something new.

  • Lily_Kreitinger

    Love your post! I can totally relate. This year I will begin the process to become an American citizen and get my blue passport, so my kids also have a head start on that :) Being bicultural allows me to be more accepting and flexible, because I know there are different ways of viewing the world. It has allowed me to make my own version of “the best of both worlds” and teach my family and my in-laws different perspectives of life. Living in the United States has allowed me to blossom and grow as a person in ways I would’ve never imagined and that is a gift I’m truly grateful for. Thanks for sharing!

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      That’s so cool!!! Congratulations!!

    • http://www.ginasmom.com ginasmom

      You are welcome!, and go for it, it does make your life even more interesting.

  • tbric

    I think if more people had perspective, we could get back to the things that made the USA great. Everyone now thinks they deserve more. We forgot how to work to get the rewards. Great post!

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      It’s true. I see this entitlement mentality all the time now. Crazy.

    • http://www.ginasmom.com ginasmom

      Thank you!