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An International Fourth of July in the Ozarks

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- How do our foreign visitors celebrate the Fourth of July, and what does it mean to be an American for those who have just become citizens?

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- How do our foreign visitors celebrate the Fourth of July, and what does it mean to be an American for those who have just become citizens?
 
Americans are all about freedom and patriotism, but many people around the world do not have the same opportunities as Americans do.
 
Citizens of other countries often travel here, study here, and some even choose to get a visa and move here for good.
 
"On the first 4th of July I did not know what the 4th of July was," says Maan Ayyash, who came to the U.S. from Saudi Arabia in the spring of 2011 to study at Missouri State University. "I was outside and I saw fireworks and I asked what it was for."
 
His friend explained what the holiday was all about, and since then, Maan has grown to love America and enjoys celebrating holidays like Independence Day.
 
"It's really a great experience, when you see some people are really passionate about their country and how much they love their country. It's such a good feeling."
 
"I was kind of familiar because we learned that in history," says Ingrid Lorentson, who knew about July 4th, but coming to America from Columbia at age 13, there is something she did not know -- English.
 
"It was kind of frustrating because my world was quiet. I couldn't speak to anybody. I couldn't have any friends. I felt like an outsider." Ingrid officially became a citizen of the United States in August of last year. "It's an honor to me to be a part of this culture."
 
And despite her Columbian heritage, she couldn't feel more at home.
 
"Even though they were not my ancestors that fought for freedom, because of them, I can have my citizenship today, and be able to celebrate with everybody. I think I have the best of both worlds."
 
Maan agrees. He's even considering going to medical school here and getting citizenship one day.
 
"I get the chance to share the culture with American people and get a chance to see the values in the American culture as well."
 
While July Fourth traditions link Americans with our country's past, many visitors and people who have recently become citizens see these traditions as hope for their future.


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