I always wanted to be an American.
My mom often tells the story of how when I was five years old, I walked into a grown-up family discussion about how my mother's brother could do certain things that my mom and her sisters could not and interrupted everyone by stating loudly and firmly that I thought it was not right that "boys and girls were treated differently."
You see, I grew up in a country that provided different rights to men and women by law and by culture. And even at five years old, I knew that it wasn't right. My mom teases me about how I embarrassed her during that gathering and numerous others with my outspoken manner and my fearless attitude. At that time children were to be seen and not hear (let alone heard interrupting adults talking about serious family matters) but from the beginning I wrote my own rules.
I wanted to be American before I even knew what that really meant or would entail. I wanted freedom. I wanted equality. I wanted to be treated with the same kind of respect that I saw being bestowed upon the men in my country.
I wanted the dream.
Thanks to my parents, I had the opportunity to come here and live that dream. The dream of opportunity, of dignity, of self reliance, of equality and most importantly of freedom.
I never take for granted what this country has given me.
I waited many years for the chance to vote and now that I have that right, I don't take it for granted.
I vote because it's my right, my privilege and my duty as an American.