As a Newfoundlander living in the United States of America, Oren Young sees a different USA that what most see on TV.
The American dream is chased by many moving to the United States of America, but recent struggles could turn that dream into a nightmare.
Oren Young grew up in St. John’s.
He has lived in the U.S. for 11 years. He resides in Henderson, Nevada, just outside of Las Vegas. He has a wife and three kids, and says he’s living the American dream as the vice-president of operations at Province, a financial restructuring company.
Recent events, however, have caused Young to question his future and the dream he’s been chasing.
On Wednesday, there were 2,379 new cases of COVID-19 and 24 deaths in Nevada.
Young contracted the virus earlier this year and says it was no joke. He experienced headaches, cough, a fever and various other symptoms for about four days.
“I don’t think the U.S. has handled it well, period, end, stop,” said Young. “That doesn’t mean I believe in a shutdown.”
The economy, says Young, is just as important as fighting the virus itself. He thinks the country hasn’t seen the full effects of the virus on the economy and won’t for at least a year.
The U.S. is different because of how everyone sees themselves as an individual first, he says, which partly explains why the individual states have so much control.
“But in a case like this where there’s an emergency, I think you really need federal government oversight and a lot of leadership, which wasn’t shown,” said Young.
Barbara Young is Oren’s mother. She lives in Paradise and says when she found out he had contracted the virus, she felt helpless.
“Oh my God, I wanted to be there for him and his family,” said Barbara. “I’m not a spring chicken anymore, so I figured the best thing to do was stay put. It was nerve-wracking until I knew he was out of the woods.”
“They both play nasty games.”
COVID-19 isn’t the only topic that has sparked tensions in the U.S., as the recent presidential election has continued to divide the country along political and social lines. Young has seen the divide himself, but thinks mainstream media as well as social media have sensationalized some issues.
“When you do the research and you actually start to look at the everyday American, like the people I hang out with, they are just like you or I,” said Young. “Some of my friends are Trump supporters and some are Biden supporters, but they are not to the extreme you see that’s brought out in the media.”
Sensationalism, says Young, has contributed to average people not wanting to share who they voted for. He thinks a stigma on both sides has been created where someone who voted for current President Donald Trump is thought to be a racist and someone who voted for President-elect Joe Biden a socialist.
Biden defeated Trump in the November U.S. election winning 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232.
The stigma has created a climate where the everyday the views of Americans aren’t properly portrayed to the world.
Young says another problem is with the political system itself. He thinks the US could benefit from a third political party to balance power and give people more options.
“Those two parties are embedded,” said Young. “They both play nasty games.”
“It made me think I might never see these people again.”
That doesn’t mean social issues aren’t real, says Young. He has seen firsthand some of the extreme views people can have. From racism to a possible civil war, he has heard it all. Still, he stresses they are extremes and aren’t common viewpoints.
“America has been extremely good to me and my family,” said Young. “I look at it as a huge opportunity that my kids are gonna get, that most people won’t get.”
The distance is still a factor and missing family and friends is something that he says will never go away.
But technology has been a big help and kept the family connected, says his mother.
“I think that’s what’s keeping a lot of families together,” said Barbara. “We can see [them] with the technology today. We can communicate more so then just talking with them on the phone.”
The distance was magnified when Young got diagnosed with COVID-19. He says there were many moments he wished he was home because he knew his family would have helped.
“I think initially when the pandemic started, I was worried for my parents and extended relatives,” said Young. “It made me think I might never see these people again.”