(Projection of the DRC and US flags.)
NARRATOR: America. Land of the free, home of the brave. Bombs bursting in air, and the rockets’ red glare. A symbol of power for the world or an opportunity for better days. For the citizens of America, we are often blinded, perhaps because of how comfortable our lives are. For some immigrants, this is a land away from home, a safe space, but only for the moment. They still long for their own homeland. For others, this country is a promised land, a powerful, prosperous landscape that gives them a better life.
(MCABRAHAM and JEFFREY enter, standing on opposite sides of the stage facing the audience.) For these two Congolese immigrants, the American Dream means different things.
MCABRAHAM: In Africa, many live with political and economic fear. Governments are corrupt and unemployment among the younger generation is high. I got the chance to come here by plane. But a thousand people will try to reach Europe, to cross the sea in a canoe. With thousands of people, only maybe five persons are going to make it. All the others are going to die because they are trying to find the good life, to find the peace.
JEFFREY: I used to watch TV and watch American movies like the movie Rambo, like Arnold Schwarzenegger, so that make me dream to travel one day to United State. And the government has a program that . . . it’s kind of lottery. If you win, you can get a visa and come in America, live your life here if you want. So I was one of the people—I try and I win and then ask for a visa and then I come here. So it was like my dream was something that came a reality.
MCABRAHAM: You know, I have great experiences in my country and then to come here for me is not good idea. But it has permitted me to see how other people live. I learned many things here that I would never find in my country. Like the freedom . . . No one can arrest you, no one can put you in jail or kill you for criticizing the president, okay? But in my country, all is in the hand of the government. Here you’re free. The freedom, it’s rare in my country. I can tell my people want to do their best to look for freedom in America, because it is very important for you, for life.
JEFFREY: You know, most of the films I’ve seen show how America is great, how America is forceful. Like if you watch the movie Rambo . . . you have an idea, like people from the United State are stronger than everybody else, that the United State is the greatest country in the world. You know when you see the weapons, it make you feel like I have to be like that, like American people, powerful. That was the kick start that kept me wanting to go to United State. America is so proud to be great. So people have to be great. I find it very amazing.
MCABRAHAM: Here in America, you do not understand what is going on outside. You do not know what happens in other countries. You think America is good, but America is not always good. America is power. But they do not help when it is needed most. When I was in my village, I see my father killed, I see my brothers and my sister killed. That is why I came here. America should care about the people of Africa.
JEFFREY: America is a good place. This place is good to us—to me, this land. And you know if you are in the United State, maybe you can’t realize that. But if you’re out of United State, you’ll find that the United State is the most beautiful country in the world. Yeah.
MCABRAHAM and JEFFREY: I come to America for opportunity.
JEFFREY: I have a good life. I want to become a citizen and raise my family here.
MCABRAHAM: I want to go back. I have to take what I have learned and bring it back to my people. I will never give up until we are free.
This scene originally appeared in Congolese Immigrant Stories, a publication of The Facing Project that was organized by Illinois College in Jacksonville, Illinois.