Define American

Using the power of story to transcend politics and shift the conversation around citizenship

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  • I am a DREAMER...well almost...

    | Anonymous

    Meet Gabriela. A DREAMER... well almost... She missed the age-at entry requirement by a couple of months.

    After reading her story, don't you think she more than deserves a shot too?

    "I, Gabriela Monico, hereby declare as follows: My name is Gabriela Monico. I am a resident of California. I was born in San Salvador, El Salvador. I came to the United States in November 2005 on…

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  • Done Dreaming

    | Esmy Jimenez

    My name is Esmy Jimenez. I was raised in a small town in Washington State known for agriculture and friendly people. I graduated from the local high school as the Senior Class President. I was in National Honor Society and enrolled in all the AP classes my school provided. I even ran on the cross country team and (attempted) to play tennis. On weekends I worked for a catering company…
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  • No Papers Necessary.

    | Anonymous

    My name is Pat. My first "American" family member got to these shores in 1621. His name is William Claiborne and there is a plaque dedicated to him in the church at Jamestown. However, the other half of my family is Irish. The Irish side of my family, while I am not certain, very likely arrived here without any papers since they fled here during the famine. So, in…

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  • I am an American, but I live in the shadows...

    | Anonymous

    In 1998, I met my immigrant husband in Chicago while I was in AmeriCorps and going to school. By that time, he had been in the US for almost 10 years--he had earned his GED, learned English, and moved up from his original position as dishwasher to become a kitchen manager. We fell in love. In 2002, we got married in his hometown in Mexico. We were told that petitioning…
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  • I Teach Americans. So What?

    | Anonymous

    While sitting at a scholarship pageant, I remember how an idyllic teenage girl explained that her dream was to become a teacher. I was a cynical teen in those days and so I rolled my eyes as her sweet, but very breathy voice tinkled the words, "I believe the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way." I had to chew on the sides of…
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  • Restricted Dreams

    | Andrea C

    Confusion appeared on her face as a border policeman told her she was committing an illegal crime. Her small hands touched her brownish hair as her four-year-old brain tried to understand she was doing wrong. The border policeman smiled at her curiosity and innocence. After back and forth questions and answers between the four-year-old and the policeman, she finally gave up trying to understand what she was doing wrong. Instead…
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  • Neither Here nor There

    | Anonymous

    I was born here in the US, but I might as well have lived 18 years of my life as an undocumented immigrant. Why? I have been limited of living a full life because my mother is undocumented. I have been given many opportunities here, but I have had to do them alone or have had to deny them. When all my friends tell me they've gone to the Grand…
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  • Defining "American"

    | Joseph B

    When I moved to the US one the first things I was told to do was to make an American Dream. I was told that if I believed in myself, kept on track and especially work hard I could accomplish my dream. That I could accomplish anything. Because America is the Land of Opportunity. So I made my American Dream to become a doctor. Not just any doctor. But a…
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  • From Russia to the U.S.

    | Cady Landa

    My story as an American begins with my grandparents who all came to the U.S. from Russia in 1913 or thereabouts. The story that sits so strongly with me is my Grandpa Charlie's. He died when I was ten. So very early on, and he was the only grandparent who told me about his life in Russia, he told me a story that I will never forget -- a story…
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  • A geography lesson: America is a continent, not a country

    | Anonymous

    Our daughter had just turned 17 when we moved to Mexico to begin our work as missionaries with a major U.S. denomination. While we studied Spanish in an immersion language school, my wife and I were home-schooling our daughter. One of the courses I was to teach was geography, so I decided to use another book to teach the subject from a different perspective. In addition to her regular curriculum…
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