I’m seeing posts of friends at BBQs and pool parties from my friends in the USA. I’m seeing parades and fireworks and flags on Instagram and Facebook. And I’m not there to experience any of it.
It’s one of the first times I’ve felt very disconnected from my home country since moving overseas nearly a year ago.
We celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas here (by taking days off of work and school…those holidays aren’t national holidays in Mongolia) so we were part of what was happening back in the States, even if we were 12 hours ahead and 6,000 miles away. We expected the US Embassy to host fireworks or a BBQ for American ex-pats–we’d heard rumors they’d done so in the past–but, to the best of our knowledge, they did neither this year.
I’m grateful to be American, my passport gives me privileges all over the world that people from other countries don’t always have. I’m a native English speaker, which is incredibly handy in international travel and gives me access to all kinds of resources that aren’t available in other languages. I received a great public education, was free to pursue a higher education and career I love.
I know not everyone from the US has the same opportunities that I did and I know that my home country is far from perfect. There are a lot of injustices that need to be rectified and evil that needs to be confronted. But it is my home country and I can love and appreciate it, despite its brokenness, and honor it without veering into unhealthy nationalism or feelings of inherent superiority.
I regret that we didn’t celebrate the 4th of July here this year, and I’m not sure what it will look like next year, but I intend to honor it in some way because our home country is a huge part of who we are, even as we are digging deeper roots in a host country that is beginning to feel more and more like home.
If you have any ideas that don’t involve grilling (we don’t have a grill or great outdoor space in which to grill), fireworks (haven’t seen those here either), or a pool (there are only a few indoor pools nearby that require extensive medical check ups before you’re allowed to use them) let me know; I’ve got a whole year to plan!