I grew up in a culture full of hatred toward America. I will write a separate post on this topic one day, but not today. Because today I don't want to write about hatred. I want to write about what I love in the US, about the things that make this place unique and different.
Last weekend I took a trip to Los Angeles with my friends. I observed a few brilliant parts of American culture and American life. And for me, those are the parts that define America for me. America, like any other place, has problems. And it's fine. What makes this place unique is its unique best parts. They offer tons of hope about the future. It shows how life can be. The States are about hope and dreams.
So what did I see?
I was at the beach with my friends. There were a bunch of non-profits that were using surfing as the therapy.
One of the organizations - Best Day - worked with special kids. It looked like this. Five adult instructors would take care of one special kid. They would put him on board with special seat; and they would surf, smile to the kid, hold his hand, hug him. They would talk to his mom.
I was so touched by all of this. I cried there on the beach, observing love, and humanity.
If I were a kid right now, I would want to grow up in the US. There is no other country that I know that knows how to deal with kids. Of course, you can have a terrible experience here, but you can have an experience that is so much ahead of many other places. And I want to focus on this. Not on the problems, but the best parts.
If I were special kid now, I would want to be in the US. America is the most inclusive and advanced country in that regard. You would be fully integrated into society. It tears me up when I see not only infrastructure, but groups of teenagers getting food together. And when special kids are fully-integrated, laughing, making jokes etc.
But it's not only about special kids. In the US, there are lots of people who know how to interact with kids. I cry when I observe even the simplest situations, because those are the things that I never had myself.
Americans have the idea that every kid is unique in a way. They make you believe in yourself. Adults will help you. They recognize how stressful and scary it can be to be a kid in a lot of situations. They will walk you through all the difficult experiences. They will make sure that every kid knows that instructor/adult is there for them. Kids can be awkward, make mistakes.
But adults will be supportive, they will be there for the kids. They will smile. They will celebrate even the smallest action (including just showing up).
When I was at the beach, I saw a lot of touches, hugs, high-fives, lots of smiles, lots of support. It's an experience that is very hard to put into words. It's like the adults know how kids feel and what they need.
And they try to provide that.
When I talked to the instructors, I realized that they are fully aware of kids' needs. Everything they told me, made sense to me as I also once was a kid. And then I saw they do exactly what they told me in real life and even more. They were like these magicians - saying the right things and doing them. It still feels surreal to me and gives me shivers.
So what else did I see?I heard so many times that America is a very individualistic society. And then I went to play soccer with my friend. It happens to be a Friday night in LA, and our soccer field was inside the Culver City High School.
I couldn't believe what I saw. This high school (as any other high school in this country) had a stadium. There was a football game. The stadium was full of people - kids, teachers, parents, locals. Friday night in Los Angeles - people could be anywhere they want. But they were there. All together. Kids, teachers, parents. As a community. Watching the game, enjoying live music and dances, fireworks. Everything in the local school, every week.
In America, people do show up. They show up for their kids, and they show up for their communities. It's unimaginable to me.
In America, if you have kids - you would come and see them playing whatever sports they do. You can also volunteer to be the coach of your kids' team.
People do care here. I never saw anything like that frankly.
Those are just two things. There are many more that I love here. But even those two are enough to make me love America.