America at a Table
At Princess America Nationals this summer, one of my favorite memories was sitting at a banquet table at the The Greatest Show Gala in support of Give Kids the World. We went around the table and talked about where we were all from. Emily (Vietnamese American) and I (Indian American) proudly talked about the PNW with all of our mountains, volcanoes, skiing options, glittering lakes, and Evergreen trees. The family from Louisiana (Caucasian) talked about fishing and how their neighbor had a “gator in their backyard just the other day.” Whereas, Nathalie (Haitian-American goddess), from across the table, born and raised in Queens, NY has never even seen a frog in her life (we were all astonished) but shared about living in a “suburb” under the lights of the Concrete Jungle. The dad from Louisiana then said something quite profound. He noted that here we were, all Americans, and yet our landscapes and life experiences are vastly, vastly different. We had such a fantastic time relating to and laughing at our unique American experiences. We could (literally) all come to the table from every corner of the U.S. and have a pleasant discussion on why America actually IS great - none of our stories were the same. And that is pretty darn cool.
We sat at the table as strangers and spent the evening becoming our strongest supporters - cheering each other on as our names were called for select awards (I was blessed with the Princess America National Community Service and Best Essay Awards, Nathalie won an award recognizing her work as a mentor and teacher to her figure skating students, Em won Best Essay in Teen, etc.).