“I still clearly remember the time when we came to America for the first time. There were seven of us in an apartment in San Jose, which had one room and one toilet: my parents, my aunt and uncle, two cousins and me as a 4-year old. I remember that my father worked hard on the construction site, and he really hurt his back once, while my uncle Jasmin was waking up at 3 am to go to work at the airport,” said Melina Delkic, from Prijedor.
We are actually refugees from B&H, but I do not feel like that. My parents and I have a house in St. Louis now, with wooden floors and stairs, and a little dog that started to get fatty. We have family dinners with the right furniture in dining rooms that we have chosen because we like it, not because someone gave it to us. We colored the walls, because we no longer have to rent our home. We decorate our house for Christmas because we like the new tradition, she says.
Bosnia is in our hearts, but it is not everything ours anymore. We are Americans, not just because we live here longer than we lived somewhere else. Nor because we are citizens who pay taxes, go to school and vote here.
We are Americans because we cheer at matches and make the chicken and beef sauce when we watch the Super Bowl. We decorate our Christmas tree while listening to Bruce Springsteen and we hang a lot of flags on July 4, even though my mom thinks that it is not really tasteful. We are Americans because we smile at strangers in stores and open the door to each other and believe in the good in people, said this young girl from Prijedor.
For my 20 years, I left aside few dreams, and one of them is to be the archaeologist. But I will not stop believing in tolerance, warmth and love that America gave to my family. My America is such that when you drop something on the street, people come to help you out. It is a place where people give up on easy money in order to make some difference in the world, where people treat war refugees with love, support and compassion, as all human beings deserve. My America is such that we open our hearts wider than we thought it was possible and we do not ask why. This is the place where they give education, little dog and stairs to naive little refugee.