Honors Capstone Project
Date of Submission
Citizenship and Public Affairs
Capstone Prize Winner
Won Capstone Funding
International and Area Studies | Other International and Area Studies
What, from an international perspective, does it mean to be an American? After having spent so much time in other countries and seeing how people elsewhere felt about the U.S., I had to wonder, what about the people who actually come to America? What is it that draws them here and makes them want to stay or return? Do they view America as a pinnacle of perfection and hope and opportunity, or are we really perceived as the dregs of a consumption-driven world as some fear? In talking to international students from all over the world, I have found answers to some of these questions. Some of these students have come to the States, hoping for a Disney-esque land of wonderment, a country that delivers on all the promises of an industrialized nation. Some have found instead, that this country bears a strong resemblance to the humble third world roots that they’ve come from. Others have been left satisfied and some even enamored with the U.S. and have continued coming back, time and time again. Some have come here following a path of tradition. For a few, pursuing a degree in the U.S., Europe or Canada was a natural course of action taken by friends and family before them. Others have had to plot their own paths and leave friends and family for years at a time in order to see what this country has to offer. Others still have had to fight tidal waves of criticism for their decisions to traverse land and water to come to the U.S. Some of these students have dreamt of coming to America, the land of opportunity and fortune, since childhood. Others have merely turned to this country as an opportunity to further their instruction in their respective disciplines. Many have come to reap the benefits of a First World education system and to bring that information back with them when they return to their own countries, hoping to apply it so as to improve the quality of life for citizens there. What follows are the stories of fifteen young international students who for one reason or another found themselves in the halls of Syracuse University, pursuing degrees from Chemistry to Public Diplomacy, French Literature to Mechanical Engineering. They are graduates and undergraduates, males and females, from upper class Venezuela to poor, struggling Nigeria. And these are their stories.
Brimmer, Megan, "More Audacity of Hope: International Perspectives on What It Means to Be American" (2010). Syracuse University Honors Program Capstone Projects. 392.
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