Being proud of your country used to have a distinct meaning for me. It was the first time I was so far away from home and I never really considered the beauty and positive elements inside my home nation. Coming from Greece all I thought of my country when I was in it was about the dysfunctional economy, the discombobulated and lying politicians taking for granted what was around me. It was a new phenomenon for me, to see that every American residence inside (and outside) the U.S. had a flag hanging in the window.  

I always had the meaning of patriotism mixed with xenophobia because of the hate that some individuals express towards refugees coming to Greece and always treated patriotism with a negative perspective. What surprised me the first few days was that when asked where we come from I answered with pride but why? After a while I realized that I was proud of my country because of the values and lessons that I got from it turned me to the person I am today. I realized that I live in a country with one of the richest histories worldwide, I realized that I was surrounded by crystal clear water, by a society where gun control wasn’t an issue. 

Little things like that made me realize that you should never be ashamed of your country, but instead you should always embrace the positive elements that it has since, at the end of the day, your country is one of the reasons that you are who you are today, it is a part of your identity. These ideas intrigued me into taking the liberty of interviewing students around campus from all over the world about their perspectives on this issue.

     1. What is your name, where are you from, and what is your age?

“My name is Luke Majuri. I’m from the United States of America and I’m 17 years old.’’

Do you have pride in your country and if yes why?

“I have pride in my country because, as an American, I am provided with civil liberties to exercise my pride, my opinion, and my beliefs. I would not have access to most of these civil liberties if I were to have been born in another country; which is why I show immense pride towards my national identity and my home.’’

Do you ever feel morally troubled or ashamed by the actions of your country?

“Of course I have had moments where I have felt morally troubled or ashamed by the actions of my country, whether it be past actions or present actions. I believe though it is necessary to have such moments in our nations’ history to better improve ourselves and learn from our mistakes.”

 2. What is your name, where are you from, and what is your age? Also mention languages that you speak.

“My name is Sara Schwartz. I Was  born in Boston but I live in Japan. I am  16 years old. I speak English, Japanese and Chinese mildly fluently.”

Do you have pride in your countries of origin and the one that you currently reside to and if yes why?

 “I have pride in Japan, the country a currently reside in, for a couple reasons. For one, I’m proud of the general culture of respect and politeness, which allows Tokyo to be a relatively safe and clean city to live in. I’m also proud of traditional Japanese culture, and how Japan has worked to preserve a lot of ground traditions while at the same time being technologically forward and progressive.”

 Being a person from multiple regions, witch area do you think you have pride in and do you feel equally about all of them?

“Although I’m proud to be a United States citizen, I’d have to admit that my patriotism is largely dependent on that day’s headlines. Apart from obvious political events that affect my pride in the United States government, as I am an international student, the way that U.S. tourists and other visitors behave themselves and represent the U.S. in Japan is really impactful. For example, a big event that really brought down my level of pride in the U.S. was the Logan Paul scandal in the Aokigahara woods. [Paul posted the video of a suicide.] As I am half-Japanese and live in Japan but was born in America, I think my pride in the U.S. can be measured by how willing I am to appear a U.S. foreigner in Japan. Recently, I find myself trying not to stand out as an international student, as the big U.S. news that is discussed often in Japan is not news to be proud of.’’

3. What is your name, where are you from, and what is your age?

“My name is Juan Attias. I am from the Dominican Republic and I am 16 years old.”

Do you have pride in your country and if yes why?

“I have some pride in my country, due to the fact that we are proud of our nationality which makes me have great pride in my country, but sometimes I feel great disappointment in it. We all express our nationality with great pride, everybody seems to create a bond between them and there isn’t much hate. Every personal characteristic I show from day to day originates from where I come which is why I greatly identify with my country.’’

Do you ever feel morally troubled or ashamed by the actions of your country?

“Yes I do feel morally ashamed of my country sometimes, due to the dispersion of corruption through the whole country which has led to the worsening of poverty in my country and decrease in education.  When I mentioned I am from the Dominican Republic the actions of my country reflect on me due to the fact I am from there and kind of crates a negative connotation when I mention I am from there. Disregarding all the negative actions of my country we still stand strong and hope for a better future.’’

4. What is your name, where are you from, and what is your age?

“My name is Joshua Shamash. I was born in America, but both of my parents are first generation immigrants. My father is of Iraqi/Indian descent born in Burma and my mother is German. I am 15 years old. I speak English and German and I am picking up a bit of Hebrew.”

Do you have pride in the countries you originate from, if yes why and how do those affect your identity?

“Well in the case of Germany I think it’s a wonderful country, very well led and I’m proud to call a home every now and then. Iraq is a little harder to define – my grandpa fled Iraq during WW2, my grandmother and him were both refugees and ended up in Burma where they met and had my dad. The only clear piece of culture that survived from those days was our family’s Judaism and our last name Shamash. My American birth is the part of my heritage that I am most proud of, I’m glad to have been born in a country that despite criticism remains a land of freedom and opportunity. I consider myself very Americanized. I’ve been thinking about joining the military to defend my country and what it stands for.” 

As a Jewish man, how do you feel about the actions happening in Israel?

“Judaism has always been a part of my identity and has helped me through some tough times. I often feel compelled to stand with Israel since I believe it’s the homeland that my people deserve. However it often pains me when the Israeli government does morally reprehensible things (Human rights violations happening on the Israel- Palestine border.) Despite that, the actions of the Israeli government do not change my view of Israel itself. I believe in the Israeli people and their ideals despite what their current leadership may be doing. I think a peaceful two-stage solution with an emphasis on human rights is an ideal conclusion to the conflict.’’

 After conducting all these interviews with these individuals from all over the world I saw many ideas and perspectives around this issue. All of them stated pride for their country, despite every negative aspect it may have. Their first action was always to say that although at times they might feel morally ashamed and confused from the actions of their countries, they always said the they want to fix the problem, so we can create a better society. After recent events that occurred in my home nation I realized that you should always appreciate everything around you because it can simply disappear. After a series of wildfires burned a large part of Attica (region of Athens) which destroyed many houses and killed more than 80 people, I came to the harsh realization that the time to unite all our positive values as individuals and as a society is right now, so we can rise again as a nation from the ashes. I have reached the conclusion that despite every negative aspect of your country, you should never be ashamed of it or hide it, because it’s a part of our legacies. And we don’t hide our legacy, we embrace it.