What it Means to Be an American

Ishrak - Astoria, New York
Entered on November 17, 2012
Age Group: Under 18
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My English teacher yelled at me for ripping up and almost throwing out my original This I Believe essay because, well, I hated it. It was as if I was forcing myself to pretend like I actually knew what it meant to be an American. I don’t have a clue what it means. Does it mean fulfilling the stereotype the entire world has by constantly eating fast foods? Does it mean having a huge family house or some small crappy apartment? Or do you need some sort of smart phone to claim you’re an American? I can’t really point out the ingredients one needs to be a real American.

Ever since I was born I’ve been going to Morocco for the whole summer, since thats where my family is from. There, everyone is the same ethnicity and everyone’s background is 100% Moroccan. So basically everyone looks the same. You can easily point out a real Moroccan from a tourist from another country. But once I get back to the United States, the situation is completely altered. You can’t just easily point out who is a “real” American from someone who is not.

No one actually knows what it means to be an American, anyway. There are people from around the world that come to the United States, get their citizenship, and they’re an American. Then there’s the people whose family was in this country for hundreds of years, and they’re American. Being so diverse is what makes America, America. There is not a list of things you need to have, or people you must look like, or a certain way you need to act to qualify to be an American. In writing this essay and thinking about what I truly believe, I realize I believe being an American cannot be defined.