The fourth of July, a great American holiday celebrating our independence.

When I was in high school, I always thought I can’t wait to get out of this country. A bit of an ironic thing for the son of an immigrant to believe. I saw so many problems, thinking everything was broken here and things would be better in other parts of the world.

I’ve had a bountiful ride since then circling the world many times. I’ve even gotten to immerse myself in some of the most remote corners of planet Earth. I did appreciate the slow moving pace of African beach towns, the focus on happiness as progress in Costa Rica and the light-hearted laughter that is contagious throughout the Philippines. I think there’s a lot we, as Americans, can learn from these places and their practices. I’m lucky I can seize opportunities to develop a diverse worldview.

Most of all though, I feel blessed to be an American. My parents struggled their whole lives so they could afford me opportunities they couldn’t even dream about. My father came to the United States for college on the 1970s. He earned his way through school by working all kinds of odd jobs- painter, cook, taxi driver, etc. The land of opportunity gifted him a risk. Abu took a leap and started the business that has helped our family live prosperously. He’s been running it for nearly 27 years.

For me, independence is having the ability to take risks. I’m blessed to be from a country where I can learn from these risks.

What’s your independence?