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Education

Prosperity & Outlook

Work Ethic

The American Dream

Education
Karen
TONOPAH, NV
Small Business Owner

If you don’t have an education, you don’t go anywhere. You’ve got to have an education, you know, unless you’re—I mean, come on, I’m old, you know, great grandkids. So I wasn’t in the era that these kids are growing up in now, where they need to be on their toes. They need to be top to get anything, to get anywhere.

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Amber
STERLING, CO
Stay-at-Home Mom

Having a good education or an education at, at all is gonna cost ya, and you’re gonna be paying it off for probably your whole life, you know So, and if you want a higher education it’s just gonna get worse. So that’s one of the things that is still my biggest obstacle to overcome.

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Jack
PALISADE, CO
Orchard Manager

I don’t think everybody needs to go to college, I don’t. We still need plumbers, welders, machinists, uh, guys that break tires, uh, waitresses, cooks, whatever, you know?

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Marty
CAMBRIDGE SPRINGS, PA
Tack Shop Owner

I am not smart. I’m not a smart person. Like in, in school, I barely got through. My father used to joke and say, you know, “how come you can tell me who won the Kentucky Derby in 1924, but you can’t tell me what year the War of 1812 was?” I’m, you know, I never was good in school, but I wanted to ride racehorses, and I did this and, and, uh, and I was good at both of those. I think you have to do what you love, and, and then you find what you’re good at.

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Education
Jim
VALPARAISO, IN
Archery Shop Owner

For me, personally, I have a very hard time reading and understanding. So in school, I couldn’t, if I would read a paragraph, I did not comprehend what I read. It was just something I struggled with. But if there was a way that they could set something in front of me, a tool of some sort, that’s how I learned. So like in archery, with everything I do, I taught myself by doing it, not by reading to learn how to do it. You know, the first time I, uh, fixed a bow, I tore it all apart, and I didn’t know how to put it back together, but it took me a day probably to put it back together. Now I could do it in five minutes.

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Ronald
PEEKSKILL, NY
Retired

You have to have an education, one. And if you don’t have a education you won’t succeed in life or anything you want to do in life. A job or whatever

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Yadira
LANCASTER, CA
Thrift Store Owner

I think there’s a lot of opportunity here. But unfortunately, I don’t think, as children, as we grow up in the education system, instead of teaching, uh, the basics, they need to get into more of teaching the curriculum of life. Like how to balance a checkbook, how to do a correct resume, how to do certain things in life and not wait til we get to college or not wait til we get to the end of your 11th and 12th grade year.

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Nolan
McCLURE, OH
Retired

My niece graduated from college, and when she came out, she wasn’t the person that went in. I mean, uh, some of the ideas that she has now you can see on TV in protests and everything else. And she’s sort of one of the black sheep of our family.

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Lauren
BAKER, NV
High School Student

I play the violin. That’s like what I’ve put a lot of my life into. And so I’m hoping to get a scholarship for college. So ask me in a few months after the hours and hours I’m putting in every day, and that will have been my biggest accomplishment if I manage it.

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Jeanette
OTTAWA, IL
Retired

Now the current thing is everybody should go to college. Come on now. It doesn’t work that way. A lot of people don’t want to go to college, a lot of people just don’t have the aptitude for it. It’s not that they’re dumb. It’s just they have different choices. And to have this pattern of constantly telling kids that they have to do this or they’re not gonna be successful unless they do this, I find over my head.

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Howard
STERLING, CO
Consulting Firm Owner

You know, I grew up in a culture where, uh, everyone looked to education as the way up. So that, that’s huge, but then I also see a lot of people that don’t have a lot of formal education. They’re very successful, and more power to ‘em. I mean that, same, different means to the same end. I think that’s a wonderful thing. But I think either, uh, some experience can substitute for education, and education can fill in some of the blanks for experience as well.

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Mike
TONOPAH, NV
Sporting Goods Store Owner

Uh, I wasn’t able to finish college. Uh, I just, I didn’t have the money. I worked at it real hard to figure it out and I didn’t have the money, so I just went off and went to work and did the best I could. And, uh, people seemed to see that I could do things, so they let me do them and that got me to somewhere, I don’t know what.

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Anu
ORLAND PARK, IL
Math & English Tutor

Costs for graduate school are just staggering, you know? Uh, and it’s almost necessary now to have a higher degree. Uh, but it, it’s just like we’re throwing ourselves into debt here, and the presumption is “okay, well, I’ll make enough money to pay it, pay this off, it, it’ll be fine, like it’s okay to be a quarter of a million dollars in debt to become a doctor or an engineer,” things like that. But, uh, the fact of the matter is what we find out more and more is that jobs aren’t, you don’t get one job and stick to it for 30 years, and get all your nice tidy benefits anymore, you know? So you don’t really have that job stability anymore, and, uh, it’s an uncertain economy, when cost of college is rising every year and like, it’s not like we’re getting paid more. Or at least like doesn’t, doesn’t feel like I’m getting paid more.

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Rod
BISHOP, CA
Western Store Owner

Try to do what you want to in life. Go to school. And when things get bad, don’t cut a switchback. It’s a trail of life; stay on the trail.

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Prosperity & Outlook
Howard
STERLING, CO
Consulting Firm Owner

I think we have a bright future as a country. I mean because I’ve always told the kids that, you know, just being born in America or immigrating here is like winning the lottery in the world. By everybody else’s standards, we are millionaires. And wow, that, I don’t see that ending overnight unless we’re completely foolish with what we have.

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Prosperity & Outlook
Charlotte
PEEKSKILL, NY
CNA

Minimum wage is $7.50 here, seriously. Where am I going with $7.50? By the end of the week, and then they take taxes, I have nothing.

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Prosperity & Outlook
Lori
ARAPAHOE, NE
Waitress

I mean it’s really sad when we’re barely scraping to get by. And I watch TV, and I see people buying houses, flipping houses, all this stupid, silly reality, and they don’t know what reality is. You know, we live hard every day. Uh, you know, we wonder every day, my car’s breaking down. I’m wondering how I’m gonna get new tires. I gotta get an alignment. I just bought new tires, they’re now ruined I’m wondering how I’m even gonna pay for that, ‘cause my paychecks are not very big, plus I have to pay rent.

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Prosperity & Outlook
Jim
VALPARAISO, IN
Archery Shop Owner

I think that we need, uh, a lot of stuff to happen in America and not going outside of America. That’s the issue I see, especially in the industry I’m in. It, we see a big issue with it. We have a lot of foreign overseas stuff that affects my market, and a lot of small shops like myself, they’re going out of business because of knock-off stuff from other countries. And so if we, if the presidents or America can get back to America-made and all that stuff, I think we can. But I just see it continuing downward spiral if we don’t.

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Prosperity & Outlook
Kendra
GARY, IN
Public Servant

I feel positive, because I look around and I see a generation right now that is asking a lot of questions. They’re not taking anything for granted. And I also see a generation that, if they’re not satisfied with the answers, are still pushing. They, they’re not… no matter what culture, they’re saying, you know, “we’re not settling for status quo, we’re not settling for, you know, just what you say.”

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Prosperity & Outlook
David
HAMPTON, CT
Farmer

We’re broke. We’re bleeding money everywhere in the U… in, in the US we’re bleeding money, outside the US we’re bleeding money. And nobody’s paying for it. I, I mean the taxpayers are paying for it, the ones who work are paying for it. It, it’s, you can’t keep doing that.

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Prosperity & Outlook
Rachael
DENVER, CO
Unemployed

Outlook? Um, who knows? It’s seeming a little bleak, um, right now, um, but who’s to say? I don’t really, uh, pay too much attention to what’s going on, uh, in the world or in this country, uh, but I think, I think that a lot of things are getting better and a lot of things are getting worse. Um, time will tell.

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Prosperity & Outlook
Karen
TONOPAH, NV
Small Business Owner

The way things are going, I think there’s gonna be the poor and the rich, and I think the middle man’s gonna be a thing of the past, you know. I’m just lucky I don’t have a lot longer. But I worry about my, my grandkids even more than my children, and what they’re gonna grow up in, you know, and how tough it’s gonna be for them.

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Amber
STERLING, CO
Stay-at-Home Mom

I have a really optimistic view about where America is going. I know a lot of, there’s a lotta haters, uh, going on right now, but you have to understand that this is a huge country, and we’re a democracy, and things are gonna move a lot slower. If you want that super fast progress and you want things to move at light speed, you’re looking at more of like a dictatorship … And you know, now that I had kids and I moved back to this country, that’s one of the reasons that I moved back here, ‘cause I feel like it’s going in the right direction, and the opportunity to have things that you can’t have in other countries is here.

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Prosperity & Outlook
Isela
ELY, NV
Restaurant Manager

America is where you can come from nothing and be something in either a couple of years, or it takes like more, you know, years, but at the end you can achieve what you want to. Um, I think, even though America, it’s going through a rough patch right now, it has given my family, my—from my parents, sisters, and brothers to my kids and my husband, something that our own country could never been able to give us.

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Prosperity & Outlook
Michael
HELPER, UT
Massage Therapist

We are living in a moment of unparalleled luxury in this country. Even though everything’s to shit in terms of the economy and everything, it’s still—we’re driving around in our cars, we’ve got our air conditioning. That’s not going to last forever. Eventually there will come a day when all of that is no longer sustainable. I don’t know how soon that’ll be: 50 years, 100 years, 150 years. It will come, and, uh, I’m glad I’m not going to be here for that.

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Prosperity & Outlook
Kevin
ARAPAHOE, NE
Sells Odds & Ends

We get a third of our food from dumpsters. I mean, you’d be surprised what you find in a dumpster. Because, well, and also, well, other towns, they’ll lock their dumpsters ‘cause they don’t want people getting free food. Or they say “stay out of it or we’ll call the police.” If you’re in their dumpster. Well, stuff that’s in a dumpster, it’s free for, free-for-all, it’s anybody’s. But it’s food. When someone’s hungry and they say “don’t touch it,” but they’re throwing it away, what’s with that?

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Prosperity & Outlook
Amanda
OTTAWA, IL
Bakery Worker

I might be poor, but I’m happy. I, that, and I can’t, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. There’s nothing that would make me trade being happy for money, and that’s… to me that’s more important than anything, and you can go anywhere if you’re happy. You can, you can get there, and if you’re not, you can’t. You can’t do it.

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Prosperity & Outlook
Lucas
GRAND JUNCTION, CO
Barber

I was born on the 4th of July. Uh, proud to be American. I wouldn’t wanna live nowhere else. I wouldn’t wanna be anywhere else. But I think America’s a crooked, corrupt, fuckin’, fucked up place. Uh, I just — I don’t see it going anywhere positive any time soon.

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Steven
ROULETTE, PA
Farmer

Always look for next year. You know, next year will be better. Uh, hopefully next year will be better. You know, it’s, I don’t know, it’s… uh, I don’t know, it’s just, I guess it’s the way I was brought up and taught. You know, you gotta keep going.

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Work Ethic
Emily
JOLIET, IL
Social Worker

In my experience people do want to work. They usually want to work really hard. Uh, they just want to be respected and get paid for it.

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Greg
GREEN RIVER, UT
Melon Farmer

I was born in 1962. For the first 25, 30 years of my life I’ve seen lots of workers, lots of hard workers. The last, uh, 20 years of my life, it seems like they — we owe everything to the — the people. You — you might get ’em out to the field, they might last an hour. They might last two or three hours. But they want their money, they want their breaks, they want — they don’t wanna do nothing. And, uh, the American dream is gonna be gone if people don’t go back and — and learn how to work.

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Kjiliq
GRINNELL, IA
Window Setter

Most of the jobs I’ve ever had have been customer service or, you know, uh, clerical work. And all the jobs here are like factory work. And… I don’t… even though I’m young and I have, you know, I’m in good shape, doesn’t mean I want to tear my body down right away.

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Shae
DENVER, CO
Fast Food Worker

My grandparents on my mom’s side, they’re immigrants from Mexico. My grandfather’s still an illegal immigrant, and it’s very hard for him to just find decent paying work, even though they work harder than a lot of people here that are legally allowed to work, you know? Like, I would no doubt would say that my grandfather works so much harder than I do, and I feel like I put a lot of work into my, into what I do, but so much harder, and pushes himself to the limit, you know? And he’s getting paid less than minimum wage which is ridiculous.

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Steven
ROULETTE, PA
Farmer

I mean this is a love, or I wouldn’t be doing it. ‘Cause I’m not doing it for the money, that’s for sure. And it’s not because you’re, you know, a farmer ain’t lazy. That’s the old perc, perception from the ‘30s and ‘40s, that a farmer can be lazy. This ain’t nothing lazy about this job.

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Work Ethic
Meaghan
SLATE HILL, NY
Farm Stand Worker

There are people working four jobs just to make sure that their kids have a roof over their head, just to make sure that they can pay their own bills, even if they don’t have kids. And I think hard work will get you far, but not… in what the system that we have right now, it’s not enough, because there’s not opportunity.

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Robert
DELTA, UT
Rock Shop Owner

My fear, from my standpoint, with my grandchildren, I have some that don’t know how to work, and that’s troubling to me. Even if they could get work, it wouldn’t, it wouldn’t buy a house and it wouldn’t raise a family. And that’s—and they’re good—they’re nice people. They’re not—I don’t hate them or anything. You know, I—they just don’t want to pay their—you know, they don’t, they don’t see it as that important.

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Melvin
GREEN RIVER, UT
Truck Driver

Being a truck driver, it’s — it’s hard. It’s hard. It’s stressful. Sometimes, you know, you get a — away from the house for three weeks, a month. And sometimes, I mean I know drivers out there that’s been bore — more than three months or six months that they don’t get home. But I don’t wanna be there. I just wanna, you know, do my run in — in a two week period, and head back home so I can see my family.

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Doreen
GRAND ISLAND, NE
Registered Nurse

Seems like the corporations get a bigger, uh, kickback than the smaller guys do. Lot of the family farms, we’re losing a lot of those, and I hate to see that. [Do you come from a family of farmers?] Yes. Well, there was eight of us kids, so there’s plenty of workers. But I wouldn’t change it for a bit. We learned a lot, we learned, the value of, of hard work, and by working hard you achieve things, you reach your goals.

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Anu
ORLAND PARK, IL
Math & English Tutor

We were always told, I think, to work hard. But we didn’t take mental health, we didn’t put mental health in that picture, right? Uh, and I think that has bore fruit in the fact that so many of us, the most common, uh, mental health illnesses are anxiety and depression. Uh, and it’s across all sectors, right? Even people who should “be, have great careers, got the Roth IRA and, you know, all the things that mark a successful life here.” Uh, so there is something wrong about our culture of work, I think. Uh, and you know, it’s not really a dream if, if you can’t sleep at night or if you can’t feel anything or if you’re numb to the, to the things in life that make you happy.

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James
CLEVELAND, OH
Tax Auditor

You got people with different level of, uh, understanding and achievement. And I think it’s like the way God wants it, because everyone can’t be the same. You know, people in their own class, got an education and everything, so how that’s how life is. But I still believe that, you know, if you work hard, you can achieve at least the, you know, average, you know, uh, you know, accomplishment, you know, that, that sustain your life.

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Kyle
ENDERS STATE NATIONAL PARK, NE
Nursing Home Administrator

I think that you have to work hard for what you get. And right now a lot of the, with working at the nursing home, there’s a lot of kids that don’t think they need to work, they just want a paycheck. And so that has really changed from when I was a kid to the, to the way it is now with the generations that’s coming up. They don’t want to work, they don’t want to, they want a paycheck. But they want mom and dad to take care of ‘em and that’s not how we raised our kids. We raised our kids to be independent and to take responsibility for life.

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Chris
ELY, NV
High school student

I’ve been working for like two years now. I’ve been saving up my cash for the day when I do go to college. I can, um, make a better life for myself.

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Joseph
LAKEVIEW PARK, OH
Entrepreneur

I’m here, I, I married the woman of my dreams and, uh, I, I love what I do. I, I do what I want, really, for, for work, and I just, I worked hard my whole life to get to this point to be able to do this.

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The American Dream
Kendrick
LOS ANGELES, CA
Construction Worker

Got out of prison, got me a job. I’m doing good now. No looking back. It’s the American Dream.

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Dahlia
DENVER, CO
Waitress

It’s hard to distance the American Dream from what was literally shoved down your throat in your developing years, that you gotta work toward this specific thing, that’s the goal, to have this. Just a family, find a nice husband, find a nice wife, get a big house, and it’s, it’s lame ’cause not everyone wants the same thing. And if you don’t want the same thing then you are perceived or you label yourself as a failure, and it sucks. [What do you want?] Uh, I want to play music and make music videos and take lots of cool pictures with my friends, and not have to worry about working 80 hours a week to survive.

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Kathy
HAMPTON, CT
Farm Stand Owner

You know, I think about my grandmother who came here when she was very young from, through Ellis Island and, and immigrated here. Uh, her American Dream was to get her own, you know, her own farm. She bought her own farm eventually. So when I look at it from that standpoint, yes, this is the American Dream. To be able to, to do what we want to do, to be able to meet the people that we’re meeting. Uh, the goal is obviously to be able to financially sustain ourselves. That’s our dream. Not to make a lot of money, not to go overboard. I mean we’ve all had very good jobs in the past, you know, where we were making the money, but we weren’t happy. And what’s, I think, for us, what’s the part of the American Dream is that we’re doing this together as a family, and we’re taking care of each other.

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Shawn
GRAND ISLAND, NE
CPA

Right now we’re fighting for The American Dream, our family is, because, uh, we own land that’s been in our family for over 100 years, and the Papio, uh, Natural Resource District is trying to build dams, in theory, to protect Omaha from a potential flooding threat. And three of those dams are going to be on our farm, and they have the power of condemnation. So they can condemn our ground and we will no longer be able to milk our cattle, which is what we’ve done. My mom still milks our cows, she’s 85 years old. She milks twice a day with my sister. She’s milked cows since she was probably six years old, so she’s milked there 80 years. So they would lose their life. That’s their heart, that’s their soul. They would lose their soul. And, and these NRD guys, they continue to say “well, you guys are just holding out for the money.” No, you don’t understand, there is no price you can put on life and value and heritage and legacy. We’re not holding out for the money. It’s our legacy. And we should get to choose when our legacy’s over, not some government officials.

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The American Dream
Ed
PROVIDENCE, RI
Construction Worker

The American Dream is to be happy, have everything you need, and everything you want. And if you can’t earn it by working, do it the old-fashioned way: steal it.

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Michael
HELPER, UT
Massage Therapist

I don’t even know what the American dream is anymore. You mean, like, house, picket fence, all that? That’s, that’s archaic thinking. It doesn’t exist anymore.

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Maya
LOS ANGELES, CA
Unemployed

I think that when you read like documents like The Declaration of Independence and The Bill of Rights, it does give you the swelling feeling that, like, you can win and that you can be better. You can be your best possible self. I think that’s what a lot of Americans want and what a lot of non-Americans want us to be like. They want us to be a symbol of, like, strength and will and overcoming things. So I guess that….to be the American dream to achieve the American dream it takes a lot of belief in yourself and belief in the people around you and a sense of good and understanding ideally.

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Charlotte
PEEKSKILL, NY
Certified Nursing Assistant

I’m kinda like, uh, over the whole American Dream. It’s… I don’t know. I just want a career, and be able to take care of my family, and not on a minimum wage salary.

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Peas
FORT MORGAN, CO
Health Care Worker

I don’t know. I feel like I can’t really say I’m living The American Dream if I look around and I feel like people are living shittily, like really shitty, you know?

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The American Dream
Jill
ELY, NV
Staffing Assistant

I was a, a young, single parent, and which made it a little more difficult for me to achieve my American dream. And, uh, people looked down upon me, being that young, single parent, and I had to fight harder and beat the statistics, and get my high school diploma and continue fighting, and got myself a good-paying job.

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Untitled America
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The American Dream
Sheila
IDAHO SPRINGS, CO
Semi-retired

You can achieve your American dream especially if you work on it and don’t ever let anybody tell you you can’t do it. You can do anything you set your mind to.

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The American Dream
Michael
DENVER, CO
Greeter

A lot of peoples’ American dream is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and all the money they can lay their hands into. Well, that’s fine if that’s what makes them happy. But sooner or later it’s not going to be there. And, uh, sadness comes over ‘em if they don’t have God in their life.

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Untitled America
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The American Dream
Anu
ORLAND PARK, IL
Math & English Tutor

My American Dream is also to be a more united country, I think. Uh, I’m Catholic and I help out at my church, try to do as much as I can, and I’m passionate about, uh being a witness to Christ and, uh, like hoping that, that if we’re a primarily Christian country, that the gospel of love unites more than it divides. Uh, and I, and I think that’s a collective dream we could all invest in.

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The American Dream
Lamingo
LONG BEACH, CA
Barber

Wow, I’ve never even thought about American Dream. Uh, I was mugged last night. So that’s not part of an American Dream.

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The American Dream
Barclay
PROVINCETOWN, MA
Boat Captain

I don’t know what the American Dream is anymore. Initially it was poor people coming over and making it rich. But I don’t know if everyone has to be rich to get the dream.

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The American Dream
Adam
LAKEVIEW PARK, OH
Produce manager

Uh, American Dream to me, just, uh, have enough money financially to support your family. And I guess have enough money that you can always give back to charity and… thing’s just a circle. As long as you give back, people give to you and then you can go from there.

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Untitled America
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The American Dream
Lori
ARAPAHOE, NE
Waitress

I’m from Manhattan, Kansas. My daughter called, pregnancy, having trouble, I came out here three years ago on Labor Day Weekend, and I’m still here. I came with me and my car and nothing else. And I’m still here, and to me I am living my dream. I am doing exactly what I want.

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Untitled America
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The American Dream
Rod
LONE PINE, CA
Western Store Owner

I had a dream but I lost it. [What was it?] My wife had breast cancer.

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The American Dream
Tiffany
MCCOOK, NE
Bartender

There are two mice, and they’re drowning in milk, and one gives up and he drowns. But the other one, he’s working so hard, he’s working so hard, and he churns the milk into butter, or cream at the top, and he can float, and he survives. I think that, yeah, that’s what it takes to achieve the American Dream. You have to make the cream.

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The American Dream
Simone
OMAHA, NE
High School Student

I would define the American dream as everyone wanting to be treated equally and, uh, be paid fair for like fair amount of work.

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The American Dream
Caroline
ELY, NV
Teacher

The American Dream to me is at the end when you’re sitting in the rocking chair you can look back and know that you’ve achieved what you want to achieve and you’ve left a mark.

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