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What does it mean to be American

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In essence, both Theodora Goss and Rasha represent people who have migrated to America from their native countries, and who have a hard time adjusting to their contemporary environments. Theodora is a Hungarian-American, and Rasha is an Arab Muslim, both living with their parents in the United States. Both women have experienced some form of discrimination, which has affected their life significantly. Although Rasha has had special experiences, she would agree with Theodora on feeling alienated in a place where you are supposed to call home. Moreover, they have each been disappointed by the system in place, which as an alternative of uniting people to live as one human family is singling out groups of people who are not Americans. It is of the essence to recognize that even though the two girls have few similar experiences, they have many differences in terms of what they suffered from and what they endured.

On one hand, Theodora faces internal conflicts, which do not allow her to feel like an American or to belong in any place; “I’m not fully American, but I’m not fully Hungarian either, where do I fit?” (Goss 4) On the other hand, Rasha is affected by external circumstances beyond her control, which are fueled by her background as an Arab Muslim; “an FBI agent…told them they were being investigated for possible terrorist connections and that they were going to be taken to Federal Plaza.” (Bayoumi 21) Additionally, although Theodora experiences some form of discrimination, especially in school, she does have to prove herself or define her identity; in fact, she is now an American Citizen. However, for Rasha, she struggles to live in a hostile environment where she is singled out and judged together with her family because of belonging to a particular group of people. Her parents forgot to renew their visas, an aspect that led to their imprisonment and later loss of their property; for the simple reason of belonging to a particular religious group.

Arguably, Theodora has been provided with all the necessities to help her fit in as an American and has not faced serious external alienation; however, she does feel at home considering that she has to put on a mask of being someone else. “But I was no longer Hungarian either. I had lost my ability to speak the language…my mother did not insist on Hungarian because how was I going to assimilate unless I spoke English.” (Goss 5) On the other hand, Rasha, an Arab Muslim goes through a devastating phase for mere allegations. Even though there was not enough evidence to charge her entire family with terrorist connections, they were all incarcerated due to their identities. “He would look at Rasha and her family, in their prison jumpsuit….telling them that they deserve everything they got. Since they had all done something terrible...but she had committed no crime, and she knew she did not deserve to be there.” (Bayoumi 31)

In the book by Moustafa about Rasha, the author wants to show what different Americans go through, and how they are viewed by the society. On the other hand, Theodora outlines the inner struggles she has dealt with as a Hungarian-American. Although the two girls have undergone different experiences, they both understand the feeling of discrimination and alienation. Moreover, despite the fact that there are Americans, their backgrounds have been used by the system in place to single them out from the rest of the population. Theodora has been forced to make many sacrifices and wear a mask to fit in and become more American. Rasha has been imprisoned together with her family, where they lost their properties just because they belong to a specific religious group.

Work Cited

Bayoumi, Moustafa. "How Does it Feel to be a Problem? ; Rasha" Amerasia Journal 27.3

(2008): 21-78.

Goss, Theodora. “To Budapest, With Love.” 2016. Uncanny Magazine.

July 24, 2021

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