Some time ago we sold our belongings and gave away some others, we closed our companies and with one bag each, moved with our 5 kids to the US. That was by far the boldest, most hard and wonderful decision we ever made. A decision we will never regret, even if we fail in our purposes. And it is a decision we are going to celebrate this coming Thanksgiving.
Let's do some history...In September 1620, a small ship called the Mayflower left Plymouth, England, carrying 102 passengers. After a treacherous and uncomfortable 66-day crossing, they arrived in the New World eventually establishing a village at Plymouth. They suffered from exposure, scurvy and outbreaks of contagious disease. Only half lived to see their first New England spring. Taught by a local Native American, the Pilgrims learned how to cultivate corn, extract sap from maple trees, catch fish in the rivers and avoid poisonous plants. They went on to forge an alliance with the Wampanoag, a local tribe, which would endure for more than 50 years. In November, after the Pilgrims’ first corn harvest proved successful, they organized a celebratory feast and invited a group of the fledgling colony’s Native American allies.
Two things stand out from that story. One is that Native Americans welcomed these immigrants to their shores and helped them survive. The other is that the first Thanksgiving feast symbolized a spirit of brotherhood that prevailed in the face of hardships.
Each year on the fourth Thursday in November, Americans gather for a day of feasting, football and family. While today’s Thanksgiving celebrations would likely be unrecognizable to attendees of the original 1621 harvest meal, it continues to be a day for Americans to come together around the table.
It is a day that Americans throughout the U.S. (and expats all over the world) take to be with family and friends, eat large portions of turkey and mashed potatoes, watch a parade or a football game, and, hopefully, take some time to consider those things in their lives for which they are thankful. Cultivating an attitude of gratitude is a wonderful practice. Studies have shown that being grateful can increase one’s well-being and happiness and lead to increased levels of energy, optimism, and empathy. This Thanksgiving, as the immigrants that we are, we will take the time to reflect on the things we are grateful for. There is so much for which we should be thankful! Here are five of the things we are grateful we decided to move to America:
You can’t celebrate a day of thankfulness in America without reflecting on the great freedoms that we enjoy here, freedoms that were bought and paid for with the blood of countless Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice so we could live the lives we do today. We have the freedom to speak our minds without fear of government retaliation; we have the freedom to practice whatever religion we want, or not practice one at all; we have the freedom to dress as we like and go where we like and keep company with whomever we like. We take freedoms for granted that others can only dream of.
#2 The American Dream
In America, from the time you are young, you are bombarded with the idea that you can be more, do better, improve your circumstances, and become whomever you want to be. That’s not the case in many countries around the world. Here you are encouraged and expected to explore, to discover, to try, and even to fail. When we do fail, we get up, brush ourselves off, and keep right on going.
We are given the opportunity to make something out of ourselves. You can be born into poverty, take advantage of the public education system, work hard, apply for scholarships, go to college, and become successful in whatever you aspire to be. This is the American Dream. We are given an opportunity to excel here, you just have to take it and work hard. So awesome!
#3 Safety And Security
Americans can feel pretty secure in the fact that no one is going to drop a bomb on their house while they are sleeping or gun them down on their way to work. In many countries around the world, people live in a constant state of fear and tension, not knowing what dangers the day may hold. That is something that is not even on the radar of most Americans as they perform their daily routines. In fact, there have been no battles fought on American soil since WWII. While the threat of terrorism has increased and we have seen some tragedy in the U.S., we can feel confident, knowing we are being protected and kept safe.
Some neighborhoods are safer than others, but most of us can go to sleep at night knowing we will wake up in the same atmosphere the next day. We have police officers to help establish law and emergency responders to help save lives when there is crime. We have troops that fight for our safety and freedom everyday... this is something to be so thankful for.
God bless the people that helped establish the idea of free public education. They made sure that future generations were to have access to free public education to help brighten young minds. We are fortunate to live in a country that encourages and requires all children to attend school. Not only boys, but girls, too. Approximately 130 million girls in this world are denied the opportunity to receive an education. Here in America, during our high school years, students are encouraged by their teachers to look at options for college. Educators see potential in children, and help nudge students in succeeding in future endeavors. In some regions of the world, school is a luxury and is very unheard of, and expensive. We live in a country that believes in the value of education. A lot of children in the United States dread going to school and take it for granted. In other countries, children would love the opportunity to learn.
We have access to so much technology, and we use it in so many areas of our lives, whether it’s going to the movies, looking up the answer to that question we and our friends have been debating, or conversing with a loved one who is half a world away. We have cameras and computers that collect our memories for us, medical advances that add years to our lives, and rocket ships that propel people and instruments into space so they can tell us more about life beyond our own planet. While many other countries also have these technologies, Americans have access to them and use them at a rate not often seen in the rest of the world, not to mention the speed and service...
Therefore, because all of this and much more, we are thankful and grateful for the opportunity of living in the US and being able to raise our kids in this prosperous and rich environment. Perhaps many will think that this is far from perfect, but it works for us, and we choose to see the good it brings for us. We are very positive about the future and we are sure that God will continue to bless America!