I have two countries: Ethiopia, the one I was born in and America, the one I adopted. I love them both equally!
My birth country is where I grew up, received my education, and where my cultural pride comes from. It is a place where the majority of my loving immediate and extended family still reside. It is my foundation.
My adopted country is also special to me. It gave me the sense of safety, hope, and bright future that was not possible in my home country. And I’m eternally grateful for that. No one leaves their home, family and friends willingly – it is a heart-wrenching decision. But immigrants do it every day because of circumstances that force us. Coming to America, for many of us, was like coming to another world – with a new language, customs, and way of life. But it is worth all the sacrifice and effort because it gave us the chance to pursue the American dream.
It is because of this deep gratitude and love I have for my adopted country that I am disturbed and saddened by the outcome of the presidential election. And I suspect that these feelings will linger for a long time. But this is not because the Democratic Party lost; not at all! I have experienced life under the leadership of both parties. My sense of loss comes from the dark sentiments the President-elect and his campaign have evoked in our country. His hateful rhetoric has created division unlike anything I have seen in my 20+ years in this country and has left people of color like me in fear. In just a few days after the election, we have seen terrible and hateful things happening across cities, colleges, and even middle schools. I fear for immigrants, for my wonderful Muslim friends, for women, and for everyone who belongs to a minority group. But most of all, I fear of losing what I love about my adopted country.
Even through this fear, however, I continue to believe in America and what is good about this country. I am still proud to call this place my adopted home and believe we can have a hopeful future. As Hillary Clinton said, “the American dream is big enough for everyone, for people of all races, and religions, for men and women, for immigrants, for LGBT people, and people with disabilities. For everyone.”
My hope is that we can all work together to create a more inclusive and safe America! We are stronger together!
Tseganesh Gudeta is Director of Operations at Wayne Densch Center Inc., a nonprofit organization that provides permanent supportive housing to homeless individuals in Central Florida. Tseganesh has dedicated the last 10+ years of her career to combating homelessness in the region through her roles at Goodwill Industries of Central Florida and Homeless Services Network. Prior to immigrating to the United States,Tseganesh was a radio and print journalist where she covered a multitude of social and cultural issues, including women's issues. She currently resides in Orlando, Florida and is a proud mother of one adult daughter.