Dolly Parton once said in a TV interview that she’s “more patriotic than political.” That declaration always stuck with me. And it’s in the spirit of Dolly’s words that I hope you receive this post. It’s the Fourth of July after all, and there’s no better day to put politics aside and be patriotic.
Vladimir Kosmin came to the United States from Almaty, Kazakhstan in 2003, on a green card his cousin pushed him to get. The decision to come to America meant spending the few thousand dollars he’d saved on application fees, instead of buying an apartment in his native land.
Prior to arriving in Seattle that year, Vlad’s interaction with American culture had primarily come in the form of the daytime soap opera “Santa Barbara,” which he would watch with his mother. The show was on for 10 years, “so we knew everybody who was in Santa Barbara,” Vlad says.
He would eventually make it to the real Santa Barbara.
But first, Vlad would head south from Seattle to Portland, where he would live and work for a few years, learning English and, at one point, attempting to get a second culinary degree because the one he earned in Kazakhstan didn’t transfer. And a few years later, he would continue south to California, finally settling in Fresno.
It was in Fresno, in 2011, at a naturalization ceremony held in downtown, that Vlad became an American citizen. It was a moment he says he’s very proud of, calling it the next step in his destiny.
I’m proud to call Vlad my friend and his path to becoming an American citizen inspires me not to take for granted what was handed to me at birth. With Dolly’s words in my head and Vlad’s story in my heart (and probably a few sparklers), I will celebrate the Fourth of July!
Here, Vlad talks about his childhood in Kazakhstan, the process of becoming an U.S. citizen and why becoming an American was worth giving up citizenship in his birth country.