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Sunday morning. The smell of flour tortillas warming on the kitchen stove would waft all the way to my room. I could hear the radio play scratchy ranchera tunes to which my mother always seemed to know the words. If I lay long enough in bed, my mother would walk in the room and try to wake me up, resorting to singing my name or an old Spanish nursery rhyme if all else failed. Ask me where home is, and I'll tell you just this. This is home. This is me. All I've ever known is Mexican culture. Both of my parents were born in Mexico, and I myself have never lived more than a few hours from the border. I've never known a Christmas without tamales or a September 16 th without celebration. But I am not just Mexican. I am Mexican-American. México may be home, but America is where I live. I find here in college that I am just beginning to learn what it means to be American. I used to think that I would find that meaning through a sort of duality; anything that wasn't Mexican or part of the minority would have to be American. Ironically, the idea of "Americanness" was closer to home. I've come to realize that to be American is to know and share myself.
America is a conglomerate of many cultures. As such, it possesses no single, distinct culture. There is no one overarching "American" culture that is independent of all those that make it up. The supposed "melting pot" of peoples is not exactly an accurate portrayal of America. This nation is dotted with cultural enclaves that nurture their own customs and traditions rather than fuse them with others. I, for one, would not give up my Mexican identity to become simply American. I am sure that many would agree that we are all more than American. Each culture, therefore, remains fundamentally unique, never really "melting" into another. To call yourself "American" is to recognize that you are a small, albeit integral, part of a greater phenomenon.
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