My First Independence Day as a U.S. Citizen

My name is Luis Sanchez de Carmona Kuri. I was born and raised in Mexico City in a somewhat multicultural environment as my Mom has 100% Lebanese descent. I came to the United States in 2003 to get my Master’s degree in Boston, MA. I had always been inclined to travel and study abroad so when I got a scholarship to do my MBA in such an iconic city as Boston, I was very excited.

At the time, permanently staying to live in the US was an option, but not a definite goal. After I graduated from the Master’s program, I got offered a job for a consulting company headquartered in the Midwest. It was the same company that in 2006 brought me to Minnesota. I instantly fell in love with Minneapolis and knew I wanted to make it my home. I felt like family values were very strong here, and very similar to my native Mexican values so this place felt right.

Fast forward, 16 years, 3 job changes and I’m still here! I met my partner Brett 5 years ago and we bought a house together 2 years ago. While we don’t know what the future holds for us, we are proud to call Minneapolis home. I became an American citizen in February of this year. It felt like an amazing accomplishment. Not only because it culminated a long and complicated process, but also because it materialized the feeling of being an American citizen. Yes, I still have a very strong accent in English and yes, I am also very deeply rooted in my Mexican and even Lebanese cultures, but having lived in this country for a third my life makes it special to me so it feels great to finally feel like I am a citizen of it.

I will never forget the day of my naturalization ceremony. I was sitting next to a young man with Mexican and Salvadorian parents. He got extremely emotional at the time when we all had to repeat the Oath of Allegiance. I could tell that those words meant so much to him and that that specific moment was the culmination of a very hard and painful citizenship journey for him and his family. It made me very emotional as well. I felt like no matter how different the specific reasons or circumstances that brought each one of us there were, at that moment we were all sharing something very special: a shot of being a part of the American dream.

Independence day is quickly approaching and this Holiday certainly means something different now. It’s the birthday of my newly adopted nation, the one that I worked so hard to stay in and forge my own future. The same nation where I have developed deep and unforgettable friendships, been adopted by an American family and where I’ve built most of my adult life.

As I said before, I still have strong ties to my native cultures: Mexico will always be in my heart and soul and even aspects of the Lebanese culture are very engrained in me. All these aspects define me and they contribute to making me the man I am today. One of the things that makes this country so beautiful is that we all get to be who we are without fear of oppression. I feel particularly lucky for being able to call myself an American citizen and at the same time keep all my cultural background which deeply defines the person I am today. I will most likely be celebrating the 4th of July with friends and family doing what I do best: cooking a mixture of Mexican, Lebanese and now of course American barbeque dishes.

Hope everybody has a safe and happy 4th of July.

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