1/20/2009

Happy Settlers' Day

Yesterday was not only Martin Luther King day, but it was also my personal Thanksgiving. Yesterday marked 10 years to the day since I stepped off the South African Airways flight at JFK in New York. I really can’t believe that it’s been 10 years that I’ve been in the States – wow. In that time I’ve finished college, joined a volunteer fire department, bought a house, married a beautiful lady, added two cute bouncy kids to my clan, bought a business and built a close knit network of loyal friends.

Moving to a new country is VERY different to visiting a country as a tourist or business traveler. Once you move to a new country, you need to deal with the day to day differences that aren’t evident when you just visit. Dealing with those cultural differences was shocking and challenging and I made it through it with the help of my great family and friends. It took a while to make good friends and honestly I doubted that I would be able to match the quality and closeness of my childhood friends. Surprisingly, I’ve been able to make friends with some remarkably caring and loyal people and much of my happiness can be attributed to this fact.

I have a lot to be thankful for on this, my personal Settlers’ Day. This country, the United States of America is not perfect. Yes, this country has many challenges that face it. Yes, we haven’t always been a positive global force. There are areas of improvement, but this is definitely an awesome country with wonderful people. If you set aside all the macro generalizations and you look at the people around you, you realize that all Americans should thank their lucky stars that they live in a country that promotes personal freedom.

One of the young guys at the fire house teased me the other day about wearing a T-Shirt with ‘USA’ emblazed on it. “You can always spot the foreigners, because they are always wearing the patriotic T-shirts” he said. Although this is a VERY broad generalization, it may be true to some extent. The reason for that is that us foreign born Americans have grown up in places that don’t have the same opportunities as most Americans. I think most naturalized citizens are EXTREMELY patriotic, because they understand what makes this country so unique. Sadly, I think many young Americans take their liberty and the opportunities offered by this country for granted. Recent developments may change this outlook and although I hate to see people suffer, I do think it will make this country more resilient and even stronger than it is at the moment.

…Ok, I’m off my soap box now. It’s not often that I reflect on my place in the world and look back over a stretch of my life. It’s amazing how much I’ve changed and my perception of the world and this country has changed as I’ve become more Americanized. Again, this is not a perfect country but it sure offers most citizens the opportunity to make something of themselves. I’m happy to have spent the last 10 years in this wonderful place and I hope that the next 10 years will be as incredible. Happy belated Settlers’ Day!

4 comments:

Lynne said...

I'm happy that you're here and that you've shared part of yourself through this blogging medium. I admire the changes that you've put yourself through. Sadly, it's true, I think, that we've become complacent in our appreciation for the freedoms that we have here.

Owlman said...

Hi Lynne,

All the chances I have made have made my life better. I still miss my family and friends in SA, but I beleive I made the right choice for myself and for my family. America is a wonderful place with very generous and kind people.

Thanks for popping in and commenting on Settlers' day ;-)

BLRem said...

Hey Owlman,
Thanks for sharing - I found this post touching and I even made my kids read it (yah, they are probably in that group that takes America and their freedom for granted). You are a wonderful addition to this country and it is us who should be grateful that you resettled here. Your spirit for life is evident and getting to know you through your blog shows a zest and happiness for living that is inspirational.

No wonder you have met such great people here...it is exactly what you are putting out to the world. :)

-Barbara

Owlman said...

Thanks for the VERY kind words Barbara. I have a lot to be thankful for over the last 10 years and I'm glad that this blog gives me a venue to share that with you.