Jin Yan: “I think the ability of the people to voice their opinions [is] a very precious right and responsibility.”
Jin Yan has been living in the United States for two decades, and this year became a US citizen. He spoke with the Missouri on Mic team at a naturalization event at the State Capitol. The event was just a part of the Missouri Bicentennial Commemoration in August.
He spoke about how he plans to use his newly granted rights as an American citizen.
Missouri on Mic is an oral history and journalism project documenting stories from around the state in its 200th year.
Jin Yan: I would say, the first impression I got of the United States was the generosity of the AC. I came here during the summer, and I was I was a bit chilly when I walked into Wal-Mart for the first time, I have to say.
I grew up in Beijing, China. I was not actively seeking citizenship right after I obtained my permanent residency card.
It was a profound decision for me. So, I wanted to think it through from head to toe and not rush into any decisions until I was ready.
Some of my friends, they think that because I've been living in the States for about two decades now that I am automatically a citizen, and they don't realize that it takes a little time to go from a brand-new immigrant to a citizen of this great country.
"And I think every generation – they contribute to what they think is the most important things to improve in the hopes of having a better life for their children and their grandchildren."Jin Yan
And the first thing that comes to mind is I get a say in the government that is running the country I live in – granted is a very small say in that.
But I think the ability of the people to voice their opinions, whether support or dissatisfaction in their government, I think that's a very precious right and responsibility.
I think the biggest thing that changed for me is now on voting day, I no longer say, “Oh, have fun, guys. I'll see you guys on the other side. I'm not eligible to vote.”
Now, I am eligible to vote in federal elections and be able to voice my opinion in a small way to the community, the state, and the country that I live in.
Ultimately, the system of government in this country is more what I personally believe in and what I want my future family and present family to grow up and live in.
And I think every generation – they contribute to what they think is the most important things to improve in the hopes of having a better life for their children and their grandchildren.
I think as long as that thought and spirit stays alive, I think the state will go in the right direction in years and generations to come.