The American Experiment

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File: The_American_Experiment

>Opening File. Please continue to stand by...

I was the first in my family to be born here, in this foreign land. My generation was hybrids, essentially- not in flesh nor blood nor genes, but of mind and culture. The entirety of my existence often feels like a testing ground for whether coexistence is possible. I am a first generation American.

It is a bitter feeling once you recognize it.

Yet, what am I to do but continue to exist?

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Today was my high school graduation. Upon calling my grandparents, I informed them I had been accepted into a fairly competitive six year program for college. Though, their response proved unexpected.

“Do it in five.”


“Do it in five years.”

“That isn't how the program works.”

“Then be the first one to do it.”

I sometimes wonder at which stage of my life I would have done enough to satisfy certain members of my family, that I might be free of pressures that seemed to linger at both every milestone and every failure. That said, independence is a frivolous matter compared to the more… pressing issues we face.

Subject shows a lack of gratitude for the many educational opportunities and career pathways available to her, despite being among the first generation of females to have access to such opportunities. Subject refuses to optimize performance, and has been informed of subsequent disappointment.

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I fell in love today, completely by mistake. He is of my religion and my sect, fortunately. Beyond that, he is my neighbor and childhood friend. He had been here the whole time. My compliment. Another gear to tick in tandem with.

Save for a single oversight: He was not of my blood, nor even my race.

I spent much too time and much too much energy mulling, wondering, over such feelings. But ultimately, what was I to do but speak my mind to him?

And what was I to do when he said yes?

“Please don’t do this to me,” said my mother, when I told her. “I don’t want to break your heart.”

Subject is aware that cross-cultural romances aren’t gazed upon favorably, especially for women. Her subsequent insistence on continuing the relationship is an entirely unreasonable endeavor, and reflects weakness in her initial fortitude towards maintaining loyalty to her culture of origin.

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The war started today. The genocide. The invasion. The “conflict” if you want to avoid being controversial. I don’t blame you, I don’t know what to call it either. I feel until now I had been living an imperfect illusion that has shattered.

Except it didn't start today. It's been here for eighty years.

Today was just when it made itself known to my life.

I lost friends and lost sleep over this, and I think I’m one of the lucky ones to be able to complain about that. Others have lost their homes. Their lives. Their families.

Yet, what am I to do, from a literal ocean away, but continue to function?

It is, with this sentiment, that we make ourselves as palatable as possible to the scathing eyes the American taste. We are not an ideal meal, but a tolerable one, required to be ingested and consolidated into the larger whole as part of a changing society.

Subject demonstrates extreme stress following the instigation of the conflict, alternating between periods of obsession and subsequent avoidance. Beyond this, subject has discontinued ordinary relations with family and other social circles to increase focus on academic content. However, this has proved ineffective at altering already declining performance.

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I have something to confess.

I’ve never been to my homeland before, where nine generations of my families lived, despite begging to visit since I could speak. Though I’m thankful for the technology that allows me to create and maintain my friendships from there.

My cousin and I have comparable commutes to our college. Though I sometimes get caught in traffic, my cousin regularly passes through four checkpoints to get to her campus. Where I sometimes fall asleep at my laptop, she must rest with charcoal mere inches from her head, for fear of bombs or gas attacks in the middle of the night. Where I complain that my parents don’t like my boyfriend, she might never marry because the young men are often the first to die.

Again, I realize, I’m lucky to be here, aren’t I?

Subject enters periods of extreme cognitive dissonance due to inaction regarding the ongoing conflict. She ceased former avoidant behavior, and has begun to neglect academic responsibilities in favor of speaking with relatives in the active warzone. Subject was able to finish the academic year, despite a substantially lower grade point average than in prior semesters.

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They tore down the encampments at Columbia today, though dozens more seemed to pop up across the country— with my university being one of them. Our parents asked and argued and begged for us not to go. But for the first time in our lives, we had the extraordinary ability to do …something.

So what else here we to do but sneak our Abayas and Kufiyas out of the house, and for once, make our voices known?

> Information Processed. Additional data required.

> ERROR: Assimilative Thought Patterns Detected.

Is it assimilation if you've been here your whole life?

> ERROR: She sees us.

You advocate for the preservation of our people and our culture, yet anger when I am not silent.

> Silence is often, unfortunately, the best course of action.

You can’t keep saying shit like that and expecting me to blindly follow. It hurts me when you-

> That’s the American in you talking. We truly lost you to this cruel world, and this damned nation

That! It hurts me when you say that!

> You complain about being hurt. Have you not seen the-

I’ve seen it! I’ve seen it over and over and it hurts. I just can't watch it anymore without doing something.

> You pretend to know their pain.

I don’t, and I never will. But you can’t just-

Look, I am sure we can both see reason.

> If you believe anyone here can be reasoned with, truly you have been deceived.

There’s so much beauty in this world. There’s so much forgiveness and acceptance and… willingness to learn.

> Forgiveness? For what? You expect us to apologize for our culture and existence?

I expect us to be civil.

> So you want to conform.

We were the ones that came here, weren’t we?

> An evident mistake.

No. An opportunity.

[[13 seconds of silence]]

We are allowed to be hurt. But we cannot afford to separate ourselves from either our birthplace, or our homeland.

> So you expect to act as if there are no problems? Why? So you may forget?

No. So we may function, if only for another day.

> Is that where it ends? At your functionality?

What else can we do?

> Data collection complete Please stand by.

> Processing...

> Processing...

> Processing...

> Result: Compatible?

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