Monday, November 13, 2006

America, the land that I love

Kash Kheirkhah

A lifelong dream of mine finally came true last week when--for the first time--I set foot on the American soil and visited Washington D.C.

Many folks here in Canada--given my profound excitement in the days leading up to my trip to America--had warned me to lower my expectations, saying the US had changed after 9/11 and that I could very well be put off by what I was about to see.

But that was never to be.

America was everything I had in mind and then some. From the phenomenal hospitality of my unique, unimaginably gracious American host and friend (along with another wonderful friend of mine who are both two of the dearest people I have in my life), to the friendly, welcoming attitude of ordinary Americans in Maryland, Virginia and D.C., who despite knowing I was an Iranian, never even frowned upon my presence in the U.S., I got to experience first hand why America stands out in the world as the land immigrants from across the globe find peace and prosperity in.

I managed to spend some wonderful moments in the US, from visiting George Washington's mansion in Mount Vernon to the Ford's Theater in downtown D.C., to the old town of Alexandria in Virgina. But there is one particular place I was really proud to have been able to visit: A polling station in Accokeek, Maryland on the elections day last Tuesday, where I got to see first hand "democracy at work." Having never voted in my life, I was delighted to have a chance to see how Americans--at least the ones I saw that day-- strongly believed in making their voices heard through their votes. Not only that, but I also got a sticker which said "I voted" and I still have it on my jacket!!!

I loved what I saw in America and this very first impression I got from the land of the brave, home of the free and its warm, welcoming people is the one I'll never forget. I hope to see more of this unique country in the years ahead and who knows, maybe one day I'll be lucky enough to live in the land that I love.

God bless you America and I look forward to seeing you again. Thank you for a wonderful week.