Suzy Ndandji, a sophomore at Camden Catholic High School, Cherry Hill, recently won the American Freedom Essay contest hosted by the Constitutional Walking Tour of Philadelphia. She was among 400 students who submitted essays. Only three winners were chosen. Her essay follows.
On the evening of July 4, 2003, vibrant red, white and blue fireworks illuminated the sky. Sounds of parades, barbecues and other outdoor festivities filled the air. Amidst all the commotion, a child was being born to two anxious, yet hopeful immigrant parents. Just two years prior, they had fearfully fled their native country of Cameroon and come to the United States in search of refuge and the American Dream. They arrived in this country penniless, unable to speak the language, and afraid. Both had tiresome, menial jobs in order to sustain themselves, but they undertook them with diligence and integrity. Now, as they held in their arms a newly born baby girl, all their worries subsided. That baby girl was me.
American freedom resonates with me deeply because it impacts my life on a personal level. When my parents’ freedom was threatened, they came to the United States so that their children could enjoy the luxury of liberty, which they could not afford in Cameroon. They had left everything they knew and loved behind so that my siblings and I could have opportunities unfathomable in their homeland. As a result of their sacrifice, I am an American citizen, endowed with unalienable rights.
I have the ability to educate myself and voice my opinions. Being able to attend school, moreover Catholic school, is a privilege in itself. At Camden Catholic, I am allowed to deepen my understanding of Catholicism and other subjects every day. Also, I can openly engage in sociopolitical dialectics and challenge those in authority. As long as I stay within the law, I can express my thoughts about politics, government and American culture.
For these rights, I am extremely grateful and, because of my parents’ sacrifice, I am proud to call this great nation home.