As America celebrates the 4th of July, it’s an optimal time to assess a question that I’ve been pondering for awhile now. That question is, “what is the American dream we hear and speak so much about?” I have found that living abroad helps to demonstrate the “reality” of what that dream actually is. Speaking with so many Filipinos, there is a sense of hope and inspiration that is drawn from their western “neighbor.” The United States and the Philippines, on the 4th of July celebrates the Philippine-American Friendship Day in honor of the deep and lasting relationship between the two countries that dates back to the beginning of the 1900s. But it’s that vision of the American dream that for many helps cement the positive and hopeful relationship between both lands. It’s a dream of so many things, an individual image of hope and opportunity that leads to a collective desire for a land with promise and potential. The largest single industry in the Philippines is its people, OFWs- or overseas Filipino workers- are the critical link to this economy. You won’t meet any (or at least many) who do not have some tie to an overseas worker. Families do this for economics, going abroad alone to send money back to their families; to give their families a better life, or to find opportunities that match their skill set. Many accountants and nurses migrate abroad to work in overseas healthcare since these jobs can be sparse here. But through it all, I have had so many tell me that America is their dream destination. It’s where they can achieve the most, find their greatest potential, maximize their passion. You name it, America- like Lady Liberty herself- seems to be that beacon of freedom, hope, and new beginnings as much today as a hundred years ago. Those echoes of Ellis Island can be heard across seas, still being that embodiment of optimism and a new start.
When you read the news today, there is so much that tears America apart. Especially within our political discourse. But when we have the chance to celebrate the freedom and independence that makes America, and you can see the hope that people look to our land with, it is a great reminder of the power and honor that it is to be American. It boasts a sense of pride in being able to be a representative of America, and what is right with America.