National Day July 12, 2017

USA Pavilion, EXPO2017

National Day

By Yoshiharu Hewitt

July 4th is a day of much emotion for the American people. All that we as a people appreciate, criticize, are proud of, and wish to improve, come to mind on our independence day. This year, these thoughts and reflections have reached new heights of emotional fervor, as a new administration sets about its political, economic, social, and environmental agenda. In light of the many events that transpire in seemingly rapid succession at home, it is often difficult to truthfully and ideologically answer the many questions Student Ambassadors are given, especially when we are so far from our country. Concern, chagrin, and doubt creeps into the mind.

But while this independence day can serve as a vessel for these frustrations, it can also serve as a time of hope and celebration. It is not a day for any one political persuasion or ideology, but rather a time in which Americans may openly state what they hope and want for their country. It is the beauty of our democratic society and people that allows us this oft-under appreciated privilege, to speak, to scream what we wish or expect of our leaders and community. To effect change, to make our country and the world a better place: these are the reasons we Americans, we Student Ambassadors, find ourselves at the International Expo here in Astana, Kazakhstan. It is with this mindset of bold hope and democratic expression that we meet Kazakhstanis, fostering cultural understanding and friendship in a land unknown to many at home, but for that reason is so very fascinating.

With a kind, hospitable people, and a culture brimming with history, my interactions and experiences here have shown me not only the best of Kazakhstan, but has reminded me of what there is to be proud of our country. As I watched Americans and Kazakhstanis talking with one another, laughing, listening to music that was both bluegrass and traditional Kazakh folk, this independence day took on a brand new meaning for me. If but for a fleeting moment in an otherwise chaotic year, I let go of my concerns for my country, and allowed myself to appreciate all that there is to be proud of, to poke fun at, to laugh and smile at. And it is because of the sincerity and interest of the Kazakhstani people that allowed me to do this.

This post reflects the opinion of the author and not the USA Pavilion and its sponsors