My citizenship ceremony on July 4, 2012.

I became an American citizen in 2012. Bad government is all I know coming from the Balkans. Seeing all the people crying yesterday left me saddened because it’s all too familiar. All I wanted to do is listen and give everyone hugs.

I know the feeling, I cried, and my home country cried too. I left Serbia when I was 20 and came to this country. I am not leaving again.

All day yesterday I was getting condolences from my friends around the world. There is sadness but also a message “welcome to the club.” So many countries have gone through this. There are feelings of shock, unity, and love from all over the world. We were someone others looked up to, and now we’re one of them.

This is not bad−it’s the truth. I see this as an opportunity to open up and learn something from it with a different lens and perspective.

I know you want to run. I know you want to hide, but this is the time when you need to stay.

I hate that it has come to this, but there is a chance, a challenge that we have to accept and work harder to make things right. It didn’t come to this by chance or pure coincidence, we have to see it as it is.

Open our eyes−no more denial.

Despite the shock and horror, I want to tell America that we will be okay. We needed to hit rock bottom to realize our problems. And problems we have.

America has taught me a lot. As someone who teaches for a living, this is the only way I can help. Even though we’re questioning everything right now and the future looks as bleak as ever, we have to stay open and let the pain pass through.

I want to tell all Americans that there are great, passionate, loving, and caring people everywhere who have been through the same. We have to preserve those qualities in ourselves and pursue our right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Creator of @dishmeetup. Creative techie in love w/ multimedia storytelling, design thinking & the healing power of homecooked food. http://www.dishmeetup.com/

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