Fourth of July, Nigeria Style
Growing up as a Third Culture Kid, I never really identified with my home country. I celebrated the holidays of my host country or my school’s country. I grew up in Mexico City and went to a British school. I celebrated the Queen’s Birthday, and Mexico’s Independence day on the 16th of September, and of course the Day of the Dead. I didn’t feel nationalistic about anyplace but was happy to celebrate with everybody. I don’t ever remember celebrating the 4th of July although I do remember dressing up on Halloween a few times. I just didn’t have anything to identify with. I knew very little of US history and even less of its culture.
When I went to live in the US after high school, I was in for a rude awakening and had severe reverse culture shock. It wasn’t until my Junior year in college that I started to learn about the USA. I was living in Boston and a friend took me under wing and taught me about the history of the area and the people who lived there. For the first time I started to feel something for my home country.
The longer I stayed in my home country the more comfortable I became. As I moved from state to state I leaned new things about its diversity. I learned about the holidays and what they stood for. And I learned to criticize what I didn’t like about it.
I continued to travel outside the country with a slightly new perspective. I started to compare other countries to my own and see what the differences and similarities were. I started to appreciate things. I saw that compared to many countries, women in the US were much better off. I learned how important freedom of speech really was. Although this country had a lot of problems and I didn’t always agree with what our government did, I always had the right to express my dissatisfaction openly.
As I grew older, when living overseas, I could be very critical of the US and their foreign policy and many of their actions. But when Fourth of July came around, I always cried overcome by emotion when I heard the Star Spangled Banner.
Kind of strange how that all turned out.