I settled into my seat on the third base line with a good friend, ready to watch Arizona do battle with UCLA on Sunday night. It was a picture perfect evening in America's heartland. The smell of hot dogs, popcorn, and sun-tan lotion dominated the early-evening air.
I had my my official College World Series Arizona Wildcat cap on, ready to root on the Tucson-based university. Like many people, I try to adopt a team at the event every year. Being from New York, that team was Stony Brook, however, they had been eliminated less than an hour earlier. The Wildcats were now my team, thanks to the two months I spent living and working in Tucson after high school.
As the game got under way, it quickly became apparent that I was the most passionate Wildcat fan in my section, as my hollers of "Let's go Cats!" and "Bear Down!" seemed to get on the nerves of those around me.
After about an inning and a half, I made my way to the restroom. When I returned, there were two young men sitting in the seats right next to my mine, one of them wearing an Arizona shirt. I was pleased to be sitting next to what I thought would be a passionate Wildcat fan.
"You from Arizona?", I asked. "No", the kid replied. "I just liked the shirt." I then asked him if he was from Omaha, to which he replied "No, Guatemala."
I later learned that the young man's name was Andres. Two years ago, he was a foreign exchange student at a high school in Minnesota. He had returned for the summer to visit his friend Trevor, who sat next to him.
I asked both if they were having a good time and if they enjoyed Omaha. "It's awesome," Trevor replied. We love it here.
At this point, I did what many Americans do when they meet someone from another country. I began bouncing questions in regard to his opinion of America off him.
He wasn't shy in his response. "Without America, there is nothing," he said. "You have everything, you have the American dream. Every country wants the American dream."
His friend Trevor then took over the "interview process," asking Andres what he pictured in his mind when he thought about the average American person.
In response, Andres gestured with his hands, as if to include all 20,000 people at TD Ameritrade Park in his response. "This. I picture all of this. All of these people who are free. Not just that they have freedom, but they are comfortable. Without fear or worry."
His response reminded me that we all often forget how lucky we are to live where we live and enjoy the things we do. Sometimes it takes an outside perspective to truly see what we take for granted.
As a final inquiry to my impromptu interview, I asked him to sum up Omaha in one sentence. He one-upped me and said he could do it in three words. "Beer. Baseball. Girls."
In the words of the great John Mellencamp, "Ain't that America?"
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