Suddenly American

I have never felt more American in my life then yesterday, standing in the line for my medical visa on the other side of the world.

The people around me spoke every language but mine, and most of them struggled to understand the complicated procedures and paperwork being required of them.

We all lined up together, some of us looking desperate, some exhausted and some just dazed.  The immigration officials did a valiant job moving everyone through despite the constant barrage of misunderstandings and missed paperwork.

Standing in this long line I realized how easy things were for me as an English speaking American.  Clutching my little US passport was something akin to holding a Golden Ticket to visit Wonka’s candy paradise.

My passport with the shiny eagle emblazoned on the front meant I was standing in this line because I wanted to.  I wasn’t running from oppression.  I wasn’t being shunned because of my race or religion.  I was doing what Americans are known for doing, exercising my freedom of choice.

Looking around at the faces surrounding me I saw desperation and exhaustion, but I also saw hope and gratitude.  Many of these people were glad to be there, despite the struggles, just to have a chance at the freedoms I had been born with.  Freedoms I hardly think about and can’t imagine being taken from me.

I was on the other side of the world from my native land, surrounded by tongues I couldn’t understand, suddenly realizing what it meant to be American.

About Angela Yuriko Smith

Angela Yuriko Smith is an American poet, publisher, and author with over 20 years of experience in newspaper journalism. She co-publishes Space and Time magazine with author husband Ryan Aussie Smith. For more information visit
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