International night causes reflections on patriotism

Saturday evening marked my first Gannon University International Night, and definitely not my last. While the night consisted of celebrating the variety of cultures at Gannon, I started to reflect on my own.

Theresa Pfister, a&l editor

I loved trying all the incredible food that students from places like Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Korea made, and also seeing how proud they were of where they came from. While I was watching the performances, I actually started to get a little jealous.

Maybe jealous isn’t the word, but I felt some sort of stormy emotion. Countries like India, for example, are rich in deep, meaningful tradition. While I watched the last group of girls dance to an old school Bollywood song called “Chaiyyi Chaiyyi” and “Nimbooda,” a classical Indian dance, all the other Indian students got tremendously excited and whistled and cheered the girls on. I thought about how much I admired the unity and solidarity that it seemed like these students had, and how that’s not very apparent for Americans.

The United States is 235 years old if counted from the signing of the Declaration of Independence, or 228 from the signing of the Treaty of Paris. Regardless of the exact number, our country isn’t old by any means. We all come from different countries ourselves, however long ago, but I still feel like at this point we should have some sort of grounded tradition or unifying celebration other than the Fourth of July that we all embrace.

I think it’s hard sometimes to identify what being American actually means, or what binds us together. It’s a sticky situation because there’s so much to consider. The other day, I watched a documentary called “Which Way Home” that told the story of children who tried to cross from Mexico into the United States.

The children were from the ages of nine to 11 and would travel to the border by hopping onto freight trains, and from there would either brave the desert or be smuggled.

Children risk their lives to come to America with hopes of finding work so they can send money back to their impoverished families. After watching how desperately they wanted to be in the United States, it made me realize that America actually is a place of opportunity, and that I am lucky to live here. Every country has its own set of benefits and drawbacks, some are more severe than others, but I couldn’t be more grateful that bad parts of America don’t outweigh the good – far from it, actually.

I think that it’s healthy to criticize our government, and it’s even better knowing you won’t be imprisoned for it. Of course I wish the government was more progressive in some ways, but I look at the restrictions governments in other countries have and remember that I really don’t have it so bad here. It could be worse, at least.

Maybe embracing the freedoms America stands for is what unifies us on some level, and that’s why people freak out when they think their freedom is being limited or taken away somehow. I just found out from a Texan in one of my classes that it is legal to carry a shotgun down the street. If that doesn’t scream freedom, tell me what does.

 If that’s not enough, Canada is only a short drive away.

THERESA PFISTER

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