Chandresh Shah

What is it to be an American?

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For me, being an American goes beyond being a citizen of the United States of America or having permanent residency in the country. Being an American refers to having a shared cultural identity and shared values such as freedom, equality, and democracy.

Being an American include individual freedoms such as freedom of speech, religion, and the press; equality and fairness; democracy and the rule of law; and individual opportunity and hard work. These values are often seen as central to the American identity and are enshrined in the country’s founding documents such as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

I know these values are ideals, and the reality of American society often falls short of them. Nevertheless, they continue to shape the national conversation and serve as a benchmark for the country’s progress, but more importantly, my progress.

The most important thing for me is to act with integrity, kindness, and compassion, and to work towards creating a better society for all and treating others with respect and promoting equality, fairness, and inclusiveness.

Like so many in this country, I am an Immigrant – from India. Being an Indian (or Bharatiya) I also bring shared cultural identity, history, and values.

I came from country with diversity, with many different cultural, religious, and linguistic groups. The concept of what it means to be an Indian can vary greatly among individuals. However, values commonly associated with being Indian to me, include a strong sense of family and community, respect for elders and tradition, and a belief in hospitality and generosity towards guests.

This combination of being an American and an Indian gives me a strong sense of Identity that I am proud of.