A serious patriotic post is beyond me. My thoughts about the United States are too complicated to even try to express. I imagine living in a foreign country for nearly a third of my life (woah!) has something to do with that. Even saying “United States” sounds foreign when we are so used to saying “America” for the benefit of our students. (Sorry Canada.) But if my sense of patriotism is confused, who knows what will become of my children, who have only spent various scraps of time in their passport country.
On Sunday we celebrated 4th of July with a standard 4th of July picnic. It was standard in that it was a picnic and a potluck, but otherwise it veered pretty quickly from tradition. The picnic was attended by other Americans friends...as well as Australians, South Africans, and Singaporeans. The annual Yinchuan 4th of July picnic always has quite an international population, which is one of the things I find enjoyable and amusing: The Norwegians grilling their salmon, the Australian/Chinese baby wearing an Old Navy 4th of July shirt, the Singaporeans bringing the only patriotic looking desert. For our part Nadia was appropriately decked out - even her diaper was blue and white stars! - and I made chocolate chip cookies...and the traditional 4th of July tofu.
Thanks to Facebook's “memories,” I have been noticing a trend of some interesting reflections surrounding patriotism and life in a foreign country. For example, four years ago we celebrated 4th of July in America: me in my blue Thai shirt, Kevin in his red Cambodia shirt, and Juliana in her red, white, and blue China outfit.
Two years ago when we also spent the 4th in China, I showed Juliana some patriotic video renditions of America the Beautiful. She spent the rest of the day singing, “South AMERICA, South AMERICA” and could not be persuaded otherwise.
Last year Juliana tried to convince me that every day they raised the American flag at her Kindergarten (“Red! With little yellow stars!”).
A few weeks ago I decided perhaps I should teach the girls the pledge of allegiance, seeing as they weren't going to learn it anywhere else. We looked at the flag and talked about the meaning, then I had them repeat the pledge after me. Juliana repeated, “One nation, under guns...” She had no idea of the dreadful irony, just one day after the Orlando shooting.
So you might say we are a bit confused about our relationship with America. But never fear, I am keeping the love of chocolate chip cookies alive.