In this age of economic insecurity and an uncertain future, newly naturalized Americans may be the nation’s most optimistic citizens. After taking the Oath of Allegiance on the 4th of July outside the Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth, many of the 101 new American citizens shared their stories for a NHPR audio postcard. Almost everyone spoke of the United States as a land of educational and economic opportunities — despite the down economy, high unemployment, and skyrocketing college tuition.
Ashok Prajapati, who works at Hello Direct in Nashua, says he migrated to the United States during the dot com boom, and survived the bust by “going with the flow.” He says the fact that in the United States “nobody is above the law,” gives him — and the economy itself — a security and stability that can survive an economic downturn. “That is one of the fundamentals that America is known for. It creates opportunity and is always ahead.”
Zelma Echevarria immigrated from Ecuador twelve years ago, and works in the financial industry. Even she — who’s had first-hand experience with the financial crisis — is confident that the United States “allows you to build on your dreams whatever they are.” Whereas in other countries, she says, you may be stuck in an occupation for life, this is a country that “gives you that flexibility” to “try one thing once, say that’s not for me… and build something else.”
Are all of these newly naturalized citizens naive? Or is the cynicism of the recession getting in the way of lifelong Americans’ ability to recover? Your comments are welcome.