Stop for a second, and think. Pick three things about yourself that you would consider an integral part of your identity. They can be concrete or abstract, character traits or actions. They can be anything, as long as you identify with them. And you only get three, so choose wisely.

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Got them? Good. Don’t change them.

I predict that Americans will have a range of identifying traits. Careers. Extracurricular interests. Religion. Philosophy. General approach to life. One thing that never ceases to amaze me about America is the great diversity it attracts. The country truly is a melting pot of cultures, and although we all share the trait of “American,” this backdrop allows people to retain their individuality. I am American, and I am Korean. I am American, and I am Jewish. I am American, and I am a painter. I am American, and I am an environmentalist.

I also predict that people from other countries will not give the same range of answers. Take Lesotho, for example. The country may be small, but the people are proud of their heritage. They wear blankets not only for warmth but also as a symbol of the protection they were given in past wars. Their strong sense of national identity was apparent to me from the first step I took in their country.

It seems to me like America lacks this national identity, or at least has a weaker one than other countries. Maybe I haven’t been to the parts of America where this is present, but you don’t see Americans with American flag patches on all their luggage (like I see many Canadians have). You don’t see the community-oriented public policies present in Europe, or the pride of each Kenyan tribe. America is an “every man for himself” country, but with this comes an ability to accept countless individual traits and identities.

I identify myself as a learner, a fighter, and a problem solver.

How do you identify yourself?

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(Photo: Lesotho, 2007)

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