Weekly Writing due Oct. 15, 8pm

PROMPT: What’s a cultural idea that you associate very closely with the word “American”? Beyond “existing within the political borders of the U.S.,” what’s one concept or value that is attached to the word “American”? You can choose anything from liberty, to diversity, to capitalism, to excess, to individualism, to privilege, or anything else that you closely associate with America as an idea.Where do you see that concept playing out in some aspect of your own life?

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26 thoughts on “Weekly Writing due Oct. 15, 8pm

  1. The cultural idea I associate closely with the word “American” is living the “American dream.” This is the idea that every citizen has the ability to achieve prosperity and success through hard work and determination in a society with relatively few barriers. I have seen this idea play out in my own family. Although all four of my grandparents were born in Europe and lived through the Holocaust, I will focus on my grandfather on my father’s side. He was born in Hajduboszormeny, Hungary in 1930. Once the Nazis took over, his family was placed in a ghetto in the city. They were later moved to forced labor camps in Austria, and finally to concentration camps; one of my grandfather’s sisters was sent to Auschwitz, while everyone else was sent to Theresienstadt. Amazingly, the entire family survived the war. They remained together in several displaced-persons camps until 1950, when the yearly quota finally allowed them to come to America. Ultimately, my grandfather was able to make a great life for himself in the states. He found a job, worked hard, got married, and had three children. Now, he and my grandmother have 14 grandchildren and over 30 great-grandchildren. He and other Holocaust survivors are grateful that the “American dream” was something they were given the opportunity to achieve after the war. They could now take advantage of American ideals such as democracy, liberty, rights, opportunity, and equality—ideals they were so deprived of in their early years.

  2. When I hear the word “American” so many ideas instantly come to mind. I am someone who has a love for travel, and one particular experience that has changed my interpretation of what being an American means, was my 4 months abroad in Ireland. During my time in Ireland I lived with 4 girls, all coming from different parts of Europe. In my resident building alone, there was a blend of people from all over the European continent and more from outside that, from Asia, Saudi Arabia, etc. This was the first time I really found myself and discovered what sets me apart from these people. It is extremely hard to pick one of those ideas to define what “Americans” are, but I think two main values would be individualism/diversity, and that all Americans have a passion and drive for achievement. The reason I don’t say economic success, or overall happiness, or education, is because not one American is the same as the others, but we all share these common goals and aspirations to achieve something more in our lifetime. From degrees/diplomas, to money, or love, we are a nation that strives every day to move up in the world in some aspect. And in terms of individualism and diversity, I am American, spent time in a country surrounded by a blend of individuals, and I managed to adapt the easiest, and build the most relationships and connections out of everyone. Coming from a country with SO much diversity, it is easier for us to adapt to change, and a not so similar face or tradition. We are naturally so exposed to diversity our whole lives through food, race, ethnicity, culture etc which makes us unique as opposed to a country with one unified race, food, culture, tradition and more.

    • I agree with you. you can do whatever you want in here. Anybody with any culture or race could adapt this place. The culture of america has kind of tolerance. you can always built your own life as your wish. And you can follow your dream much easier here than any other place.

  3. There are many different ideas associated with the word “American”. The cultural idea I associated with the word “American” is the American Dream. Most Americans, if not all want to have a house of their own, a family of their own, achieved with their own hard work and effort. Living the American dream also includes being financially stable, basically, living a comfortable life. Many Americans are first generation immigrants, and being an immigrant, that includes myself and family; it is harder to create a stable life when you left all you had back in your country of birth to start anew. The American dream is famously known and chased by all far and wide and by coming to America, if you are not careful, it can become just a figment of a lost dream. I’m already in pursuit of this dream. In order to achieve this goal, I am attending college and working hard to further my studies. By doing this I can attain a better position in the field I like, that is Accounting, and eventually be able to earn enough to be comfortable. I am very passionate about this dream. This dream would be lost if I am too careless.

  4. When I think of the word “American” I associate it with the idea of the American Dream. I am sure many people have this idea pop into their minds when thinking about America. Yet, when I think about the American Dream I think of the challenge and competition it comes with. The American Dream isn’t just a dream of living a life of easiness and prosperity. It is certainly a difficult thing to achieve here in America. Although it is a difficult task to achieve, I find it interesting how everyone still pushes to achieve it. People in America tend to be determined and driven to accomplish their goals and dreams. Money here is everything and we all aim to receive it in however way we possibly can. When I think of America in connection to the American Dream I think of blood sweat and tears. Hardship and jealousy. Bitterness and fighting. The society we live in isn’t all it is cracked up to be. It is certainly hard even for those who have been born in America. Therefore, the American Dream to many, seem to have different meanings. At the end of the day. Every single person has the freedom to achieve the American Dream. But, it is not an automatic occurrence, due to living in the country. Rather, it is the opportunity America gives to those who are willing to fight for what they want. For me, I understand that even though I am working hard to receive my degree, finding a job and getting experience will be a challenge for someone new in the professional workforce. Although I strongly believe that with my determination and hard work I will be living My dream.

    • Hello Carolyn Schwerd,
      There is a saying “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.” As what you mentioned, America itself cannot make us successful when we are just living here, but we can fight for our dreams in the United States.

  5. The cultural idea I associate closely with the word “American” is its diversity. Well, I don’t know I should called it diversity or anything else. It is a kind of atmosphere. When I immerse in this atmosphere, I feel so good and enjoy. For instance, you can always see people singing in train station. Maybe he or she is a office employee, or a student, or a stray singe, singing in this train station is just their hobby. But all the reason he or she doing so, is just because they love singing and they enjoy it. Meanwhile, they can also spread happy and relax to everyone passed by. American people are still casual. They are willing to pursue their dreams and their ideal. And they never forget their dreams and their ideal even at this impetuous utilitarianism era. So, america is not bad at this aspect, at least better than china. In china, people only care about wealth and how to get more and more wealth. Those musician who play music not because of their music dream or ideal, but wealth. Those artist who create works not because of their spirits and artistic inspiration, but wealth. Those scientist who do research not because they want to benefit their country and human beings, but for themselves.

  6. The cultural idea that I associate closely with the word “American”, is the idea of diversity. There is no other country that is as culturally diverse as America. It is the one place on the planet where people from so many different cultures intersect and interact with each other. It is through those interaction that people exchange and impress different values, customs and morals with one another. We are able to taste different kinds of food, hear different music and be exposed to different religions. It is those influence that come together to make up American culture. One of the ways the idea of diversity has played out in my own life is through the many friendships I have made with people who are from different cultures; and being able to learn, see or take part in a piece of their culture. Another way it’s played out in my life was when I visited the tenement museum in Manhattan. I learned about several different families who came from different countries trying to make a better like for themselves. Although it was difficult, these people who couldn’t even understand each other, worked together and helped each other to get through their transition. It is people such as these immigrant families that help to mold America and American culture as we know it today.

  7. The cultural idea that I associate closely with the world American is the American Dream. When I think of the American Dream, I think of immigrants coming to America and gaining a stable living through hard labor. Along with a stable living, consisting of a house and enough family to feed a family, they also gain liberty and privileges that were deprived and unheard of, in the countries that they have resided before. However, the American is not as easy as it seems. It consists of hardship and struggle, in order to reach that goal with a lot of obstacles to overcome. A great example that illustrates this struggle is in the song, America from the musical, West Side Story. It starts with the harsh conditions of living in Mexico until the women talk about the ideal American experience before the men challenge their claim with the harsh reality, such as discrimination and bad living conditions. The American Dream can be viewed optimistically or pessimistically, but most importantly, it’s broad to support the idea of individualism. Of course, not everyone is going to pursue education to fulfill their desired dream. Some people probably view America as a way to gain their fortune, desiring wealth as opposed to happiness. Some desire the freedom to express themselves and gain happiness, in the process. I believe that the American Dream being broad caused numerous people from all over the globe to come to America, leading to the diversity that we’ve come to know. Since it is broad, the Dream is limitless to whatever you desire, but in order to gain that dream, you have to work hard, be determined, and endure life’s struggles in the process.

  8. A cultural idea I associate with the word “American” is the term “Pursuit of Happiness”. The idea of coming to America to achieve the “American Dream”. Which in other words become successful through hard work and great determination, to live in a wealthy suburban neighborhood with a spouse and two kids, and to go to a job you love every day. A concept of being able to live up to your own idea of happiness regardless of where you were born or what class you were born into. As an American, I see this idea not only for me but for everyone else, each being interpreted in another perspective. In my own life, I see the idea of the pursuit of happiness straying further and further from the ideal American dream solely due to an ever-changing America.

  9. I consider the word “American” to mean opportunity amongst many other things. America is made up of many different types of people. The diversity of immigrants and people born in this country is what makes up the American culture. Everyone that lives in America has an opportunity to be someone and to make something out of themselves. People can go to college and get a degree. People can also work hard at a job and support their families. Many people choose to start their own business and if successful can make a very good living. The best part about America is that people have freedoms and choices unlike other countries in the world. Most people come to this country because good opportunities don’t exist in their own country. Immigrants are oppressed in their own countries and come to America because it is the land of opportunity.

  10. The cultural idea that I associate with the word “American” is opportunity. It is said that the United States is the country of opportunities, also known as “American Dream”, as mention above. Personally I live in a country that is a colony of the United States, therefore we have many opportunities that other countries do not have, so I could also mention the term privilege. When I made the decision to come to study at Queens College I did it looking for opportunities. I think it is one of the reasons, if not the main one, why many people come here. Therefore I consider, the concept of opportunity, as one close to the term “American”.

  11. There are many values or concepts associated with the word “American,” but the first idea that comes to my mind is diversity. Many people come to the United States to pursue their “American Dream.” Therefore, American becomes a country that with so many people from different races. People often describe New York as a “melting pot,” but it can be used to describe the United States as a whole. People around the world merge into American continuously, and they brought their culture and unique characters with them. When culture around the world meet with each other, they tend to learn from each other and evolve. Diversity in American has a positive influence. People in the United States are very open-minded to different things from different culture. People have a stronger ability to adapt to the new idea and cultural practice, and they tend to enjoy the product of different culture. One can easily see how people love diversity in America, people having the friendship with others who have different cultural backgrounds. People might have different background and native languages, but speaking the same language, English, brought them together. With the ability to nicely communicate with each other, they are having a better time sharing and understanding the cultural differences. In addition, diversity allows people to come up with ideas that are unique, became people combine strength from their experience and knowledge that’s special in their culture. Such influence created a unique atmosphere for America.

    • I totally agree with you. There are many people coming to America just for chasing their dreams, and it is really amazing to see that different ethnic groups cooperate and live in harmony. We respect each other’s culture and difference.

  12. The word, “American”, can be associated with many different ideas. When I think of the word, “American”, the first word instantly comes to my mind is diversity. America is a country which composed with many various ethnicities. Before I came to the USA, I thought all the people were white. Since during childhood period, every princesses was basically white people, it embedded that though in my mind. However, I was amazed by how diverse the America was when I arrived America for the first time because in my country, you rarely saw different ethnic group excepted Asian. I don’t know about the other areas, but in New York, it is a mixture of many different groups of people. Most importantly, it is difficult to see barrier exist among each other. I personally feel that most people are comprehensive when it comes to accents. Accents are unavoidable for ESL person. I was felt embarrassed at myself due to my accent, but as I observed, it seemed like there was not many people really care about it. This fact made me realizing what diversity really means. It does not just appear on appearance but in culture, behavior and lifestyle as well. It is incredible to witness all the diverse population living in an area with harmony and peace. Therefore, diversity is my concept that closely associated with the word, “American”, because it broadened my horizon.

  13. The word “American” triggers many different ideas in my head. America stands tall in the midst of the word by virtue of its’ diversity, individualism, liberty and many other privileges that its’ citizens enjoy. The cultural idea that I closely associate with the word “American” is privileges and today I will focus on the free education for all program that we have here in America. I was born in a small developing country named Bangladesh. The Bangladeshi government has failed
    to provide free education for all despite multiple attempts. Most of the people in Bangladesh live under the poverty line therefore, sending children to school isn’t always a viable option for the parents. As a result of this, many people spend their whole life not knowing an alphabet.
    Fortunately, my family was very well off and I had the privilege of going to a very well-known school, but at the age of 17 I moved to the USA with my family, leaving behind everything we had and started our lives all over again. My dad took on a job as a construction worker to provide for our family. My anxiety was touching the sky as I was certain that he wouldn’t be able to afford to send me to school with his limited income. I was going crazy trying to figure out a way to put myself through school; one day, I knocked at my neighbor Mr. Paul’s door to
    try to convince him to give me a job at his grocery store so I can pay my tuition and go to school again. As we were chatting he told me that all Americans have the privilege of going to school free of tuition, I felt like a 100 pounds load came off my shoulder as soon as he said that. I am expected to graduate next semester with a degree in computer science. If it wasn’t for the free
    education program I would probably be working at a grocery store. Millions of people all over the world do not even have the chance of stepping foot in a school; I strongly believe that I am privileged to be in a country that supports my dreams and hopes.

  14. When I was young, I always thought about what would be living in United States. I had plenty of Disney cartoon movies at home and watched their stories with wonders like how wonderful life is in USA. I grew up in third world country environment where resources are limited and guidances are very hard to get for youngsters like us. I always believed in myself one day, I will make sure I get to see the world outside of my box. I dreamed about being Americans and living a life of well-developed and modernized citizen whose opinions are openly shared. My life was full of wonder with all fantasies. Even now, I feel lucky that I got a chance to reside a country so called United States where everything is achievable if enough effort is put in. People always say America is the greatest country in the world. The idea of living and experiencing in very modern country of United States alone makes me happy and content because in reality, if I have never won a lottery to get DV, I have no way of coming to America. Never in my dream I have thought I would have such change in my life. That is how much expectation I have for America. Political views aside, everyone is willing to help you and everyone supports you with whatever needs you have. The basic idea of community never have occurred to me. In my country, the community only exists in high society where riches get to do whatever they want where-else my family and I of working class don’t have the leisure to even enter into community. If this is not enough to convince you how high I have expected America to be like, I would like to add more stories. First, do you have any idea how much survival means to me? My family had their own properties looted by government saying this is for public. We were not even allowed to open a business in the town we used to live in. To make matter worse, all my relatives started to take shares of family business for their own knowingly those businesses are gained from sweat and tears my parents had to go through. Basically saying, life in third world country is like living in a jungle of enemies ambushes where your survival is only ensured if you are brave enough and greedy enough to step on everyone; otherwise, they will be the one to kill you and take everything you own. Pretty nasty isn’t it? But in America, the government is there to protect you and to provide you with supports you need. That’s how great America is to me. America is like my big parent who teaches me and guides me to the right path. I wouldn’t even be able to communicate with people of different ethnicities. My views towards America would be a dream that will be a nightmare to me always if I haven’t got that very chance to come here. The freedom of speech and the freedom of practice are what made America one of the best country in the world. In conclusion, this is how I feel about America in general.

    • Hi WaiYan,
      I completely agree with you. I have a similar background, growing up in a different country and this gave of a diverse upbringing where I can compare my native culture and the American one. As a friend of mine back in Peru once told me, I should feel lucky to be part of the American culture because I enjoy a type of freedom few have.
      ‘Just living is not enough… one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.’

  15. When I think of the word “American” I think of two things, which are diversity and opportunity. It is amazing to go outside into New York City, and anywhere else in America, and see people from all different countries such as France, Spain, Mexico, India, and the list goes on. You see people from all different areas speaking all different dialects living together in one big country, America living in free democracy. America is also a country full of opportunity to fulfill as people are saying above, “The American Dream”. You have opportunity to fulfill goals in your life. Whatever you wish to do, to succeed in becoming an amazing computer programmer, or become a great politician to fight for this country, or become an accountant, you have the freedom to reach your goal and meet new opportunities and challenges head on. America is also opportunity for the working class. New York City has a huge workforce where you see MILLIONS of New Yorkers take the subway into Manhattan to work for many companies. As opposed to America, on the flipside you have Muslim dictatorships like Iran who give basically no freedom to its citizens. They live under harsh religious Shiite clerics and the Ayatollah and right now their economy is crumbling, the Iranian Rial crashed since Trump exited the Iran Nuclear Deal, and the Iranians don’t have good drinking water. Israel and America feel for the Iranian people and want to give them opportunity. Israel offered Iranians water, as opposed to the Iranian religious leaders who did nothing but help themselves gain more power. Overall, these are my reasons as to what defines America’s wide range of diversity, freedom and opportunity.

  16. The cultural idea I relate the most to the word “American” is privilege. Growing up, giving my family circumstances, my education was divided between New York and my native country, Peru. I was enrolled in a bilingual program in Peru where I had the opportunity to enjoy an American school curriculum and at the same time follow a more traditional approach on my education in Lima. I could observe the differences between both cultures since on the months that I used to spend here there was a sense of privilege that I could not observe back in Peru. I’m not necessarily speaking about economic privilege, but of a privilege of ideals, I consider that the freedom that you feel when you are part of the American culture you cannot feel it anything else. Sometimes, I tend to forget how important this freedom is. The freedom to express myself without others putting an restraint on that, the freedom of being part of any religion I want, or the freedom that I can get any job I want as long as I’m qualified for or the freedom of getting a proper education. I know those rights that Americans enjoy are because of people who fought for them in the past, however at observing other cultures I consider them a privilege because not everyone can enjoy them.

  17. The idea I most closely associate with America is “capitalism”. Thanks to capitalism, Americans have free trade and with free trade comes so many different opportunities. Economists always refer to the idea of the “Invisible Hand” within capitalism. The “Invisible Hand” in short means that in order for competition to survive, there must be constant innovation happening for consumers to get excited enough to keep buying new products. I am grateful for this, because innovation has led to so many opportunities in my life that previous generations before me haven’t experienced. For example, I love business and I specifically have a passion for digital marketing. I am proficient in Facebook, Google, and YouTube advertising. I am also well versed in selling on Amazon, eBay, and even through a website as well as being able to develop my own website from scratch. Thanks to technology I’ve been able to learn all of these skills in the matter of only three years by using Google, YouTube and books as my only sources. These skills were able to translate into a job in the marketing field where I was able to run successful and profitable ads for my boss. I even started my own window cleaning businesses this last summer and applied everything I learned about advertising, lead generation, negotiation, pricing, and closing to grow my business. The business was a success and I had plenty of repeat customers and referrals from happy customers. My parents didn’t have it so easy since they grew up in communist Soviet Union. Starting a successful business and not being robbed by the government or the mafia was only a dream for them. I am grateful that they raised me in America and I was able to experience so many freedoms such as capitalism in my life.

  18. One concept I attach to the word “American” is opportunity. In all my years living in this country, I have noticed that everyone has an opportunity to make something of themselves. Regardless of anyones socioeconomic status, we are all given an equal opportunity to make something of ourselves. The only thing that separates the ones who take advantage of that opportunity and the ones who don’t is hard work or lack thereof. If we work hard to earn money, we can turn that into so many different things. Some people might start their own business. If they find something they excel in, they can take advantage and find a way to make a better life for themselves by growing a business. Others might decide to further their education. College itself is not free, however if you work hard and long enough, set your priorities straight, and focus, you could find yourself at a great institution so you can learn and eventually give back to society. America is full of opportunity. You just can’t be afraid to go out and work for it.

  19. Freedom. When I think about the United States of America, I think about freedom. I haven’t been to many other countries but from what I have heard about, and witnessed, in the countries I have been to, the most freedoms are able to be accessed by those who are citizens of the United States. While there may be some controversy on certain issues, it is without a doubt that citizens of the United States have the least restrictions placed on them in terms of how they have to/can lead their own lives. I see this playing out in my life because I see the opportunities I have. As a soon-to-be college graduate, I believe that, because of the freedoms that America offers, I can go down any path next without feeling like anything is off limits or standing in my way preventing me from getting there.

  20. The cultural idea that I associate with the word “American” is living the American Dream. The effort that many people put in to achieve greatness and to do their best to excel in life is tremendous. There are so many opportunities for people in the United States to reach their desired goal. People from all over come here to live their dream, some to escape from hardship and war, and others for a better opportunity. If a person puts in the effort needed, they can live the American Dream they thought about. Although not everyone who lives in America can live that life, many people can. Determination and motivation can also be important factors in achieving it, since a person needs both of those qualities in order to pursue a job and support themselves and/or their family.

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