When I talk to my friends, family, or mentors, they all can tell that I’ve had it with the United States. Heck, I know I’ve had it with the US.
I came to America in 2016, a few months before the election.
Since then, the amount of taxes I had to pay on my stipend doubled, I got harrased because of being a foreigner (and I still have it much easier than others thanks to the color of my skin), learned that America isn’t at all as inclusive as they make it seem, saw women’s and LGBT+ peers’ rights being taken away, got almost deported because of ICE’s new rules against international students in the time of the ‘Rona (which were, luckily, overruled in court), the same ICE that has kids being held and die in detention centers at the border, was dismissed because of being a woman, and heard more hateful speech than ever before in my life, and that’s saying something.
And all of this happened in a country I was taught and belived to be a progressive, welcoming environment.
After all this. After continuously fighting to be able to stay in a country that was literally built by immigrants — voluntary and involutnary (I’m looking at you, slavery) — but that, for some reason, hates immigrants now, I get asked, and often ask myself,
Why would you still want to stay?
And as valid as this question is and as hard-to-answer as it might sound, I actually have an answer, always did, and always will.
Because of the land and the people.
Because no matter how bad things get, there are always people who stand up to fight the wrong.
Because no matter how much some try to destroy it for profit, the land is some of the most beautiful land I’ve ever seen in my life.
Because no matter how hard things get, there are always people who are willing to put in the work.
Because no matter which directions you go, you always arrive at a vast desert or a luscious rainforest or a mountain range so tall it touches the sky.
Because no matter the situation, there are and always will be people who do their absolute best to help and support and fight for those who need it.
Never once in my life have I been a part of such tight communities and experienced such natural beauty condensed within one country as here in the US.
The country is full of opposites, full of good as well as bad, and full of the “grey,” too. But I’ve seen and chosen to believe that the good outweighs the bad, that the beautiful outweighs the ugly, and that all the stress-filled sleepless nights are inherently worth it. That every day that I am able to stay in this broken but beautiful place is worth it.
There are many things this country is. But above all, I believe, America is beautiful.
Beautiful in its people and beautiful in its land.
This is why I’m still here. And I will stay and seek and see the beauty for as long as I can.