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Ask Amy: Citizen wants to become even more “American”

By Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: My family and I came to America from the Soviet Union when I was a teenager. We became citizens. I got educated here and own a successful business. I write well and speak correctly, with almost no accent. I feel like I am an American.

I love America, and try to learn new things every day, but I feel like something is missing in me.

Since I was born and spent my formative years in a communist country (truly like another planet, compared to the USA), my “autopilot” reactions are not like those of typical American-born people. For instance, my manners, topics of conversation, humor, dress, attitude toward money, and even body language sometime seem “foreign.”

I feel like it is hurting me to be “culturally different.” I don’t think I say or do anything straight-up offensive – it’s more like a lot of subtle little things.

How can I fix this “handicap?”

I would love to know how to be more American, but I can’t find any books or courses on the subject.

 

NOT Born in the USA

Dear NOT: As we approach the celebration of another Independence Day, I appreciate this unusual and provocative question, which, honestly – has no “correct” answer.

First, I urge you not to see your own cultural background and habits as a “handicap,” but as an asset.

Yes, America is a country. But America is also really a series of concepts, experiments, and experiences. It is no one thing.

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