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​What makes you feel American?




Immigrants wait to take the oath of citizenship during a naturalization ceremony in at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, June 20, 2016 in New York City.
Immigrants wait to take the oath of citizenship during a naturalization ceremony in at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, June 20, 2016 in New York City.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

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We all know that feeling a sense of national pride is full of complexity.

While American identity isn’t defined by one thing, there are moments that bring that feeling to light, like lighting sparklers on the Fourth of July or voting for the first time. For people who’ve emigrated to the U.S. or even first-generation Americans, feeling “American” is often a struggle, and pieced together by events that may seem small, but make a big personal impact.

In a recent “New York Times” article, Jana Prikryl, who came to the U.S. at age 9 as a Czechoslovakian refugee, recounted when getting her first pair of jeans helped ease her mind about fitting in--a feeling everyone craves no matter where they’re from.

Things like wearing jeans, celebrating national holidays or eating a PB&J may feel inconsequential to people who’ve always felt “American,” but for those willing to leave behind their culture for their American identity, these are things that may create a sense of belonging, in addition to big changes like making English their primary language.

But fitting in is a double-edged sword. Terms like “melting pot” can be deemed as offensive, alluding to the idea that people’s cultural backgrounds should be compromised to become more “American.”  

What is the thing that makes you feel “American”? Does being “American” mean you have to give something up or does it fill you with pride?

Guest:

Ilaf Esuf, senior staff, opinion columnist at The Daily Californian and author of the article, “Feeling American: Stale Off the Boat”