US Expats and Citizens show patriotism across the seas

Americans around the world celebrated the 247th Anniversary of the Independence of the United States of America. American expats and citizens in Mauritius share with News on Sunday how they marked the 4th of July away from their motherland and reveal which American value they cherish the most.



Nathan Volman: “We celebrated together with friends here in Mauritius, and grilled up some burgers and hotdogs while watching the sunset”

Nathan Volman

Nathan Volman and his wife Catherine have been in living in Mauritius for about a year and a half. The American expat shares that they moved to the island as Catherine got a job opportunity. “Catherine and I are here because of her work with the U.S. Department of State. She is an Economic Officer at the U.S. Embassy. I work remotely for a startup as head of engineering. We are both very lucky to get to do what we love. We are here with our pets – a dog and two cats. Mauritius has been a wonderful place to live, and we know it will be hard to leave at the end of Catherine’s tour here,” he says.  

Nathan Volman

Before assuming their current positions Catherine worked at a research institute focused on poverty and inequality in the United States and Nathan was completing his degrees in medicine and electrical engineering. “Catherine’s professional dream was to join the U.S. Foreign Service, and we are very fortunate to have Mauritius as our first overseas posting,” he declares. 

The American man states that settling in Mauritius has not been that difficult. “Moving here has been a very smooth transition for us, thanks in large part to the Mauritian people, who have been so kind and welcoming to us. Similarly, to American culture, Mauritian culture is about building a close-knit community, and doing that has made our time here on the island so enjoyable for us.” 

The couple has been in fact appreciating the many good sides of the Mauritian lifestyle. “Life in Mauritius   feels like a dream. Catherine loves her work with the Embassy, and especially connecting with the Government of Mauritius and civil society to strengthen the U.S.-Mauritius relationship. In our free time, we have discovered a love for diving and now have a newfound appreciation for the richness and beauty of marine life. We also enjoy hiking in various spots around the island. Our favourite weekend activity is going up Le Pouce and enjoying the view,” he utters. 

Speaking about the 4th of July, Nathan and Catherine confide that they celebrated the same way they always celebrate back in the US. “Every year for the 4th of July we have a barbecue with family and friends and try to get out to see some fireworks. This year was the same – we celebrated together with friends here in Mauritius, and grilled up some burgers and hotdogs while watching the sunset.”

The couple shares that the celebration of the Independence of the USA is particularly important and meaningful for them. “Both Catherine and I immigrated to the United States with our parents when we were children, and for us the 4th of July is an opportunity to celebrate everything America has given us and our families – including educational and professional opportunities as well as a tight-knit community and sense of belonging. We are both proud to be first-generation Americans and July 4th is a chance for us to reflect and share our gratitude for the life we have built in the United States,” states Nathan. 

The latter reveals that the American principal of equality is one which he values the most. “In America it is commonly said that our diversity is our strength. Just as our families were welcomed not only to live in America but to be American, we live by the belief that nothing is more important than treating all people as equals,” he affirms.

Nathan and Catherine thank the Mauritian people for their kindness. “Thank you for the kindness you have shown us and for allowing us to share in the rich culture, immense beauty, diverse traditions of your homeland. And to our fellow expats: let us never forget that we are guests here and that the many privileges and pleasures of being a guest in someone’s home must be coupled with treating our hosts with warmth, openness, and respect.”

Thomas Jardine: “Independence Day helps to remind and to teach Americans about our founding values”

Thomas Jardine

22-year-old Thomas Jardine is spending his holidays in Mauritius. The son of the U.S. Ambassador Henry Jardine shares that he plans on staying in the island for about a month. “I have just finished my Bachelors in International Studies at Leiden University in the Netherlands. I arrived in Mauritius with my girlfriend to see my family and to spend my vacation here. We have all been enjoying being here in Mauritius, the people are incredibly friendly, the weather is very nice, and the cuisine has been phenomenal! It’s basically paradise here,” he says. 

The young man says that since he has studied French, he has been able to communicate easily with the Mauritian people and adapt easily to the context here. “Since I studied French, I am able to talk with locals but I need to learn more Kreole. I have also really enjoyed the food, since I like spicier food.” 

Thomas will soon be going to The New School in New York City to do a Masters in Politics with a focus on labour relations and economics. “The reason I am considering this career pathway is because I am inspired by my father’s public service and the idea that we should contribute to the betterment of society and to help the most disadvantaged and vulnerable groups in our societies,” he states. 

He shares that he celebrated the 247th Anniversary of the Independence of the United States of America with his family. “I celebrated Independence Day by relaxing with my family and my girlfriend, by going out and enjoying nature, playing a game of badminton with my father, and watching a classic American movie with them after dinner. I was also excited to attend the official 4th of July celebration at the Ambassador’s residence in Floreal on 6th July.” 

Thomas strongly believes that the 4th of July is a significant celebration for all the American citizens. “It is important, since it helps to remind and to teach Americans about our founding values, so that we continue to protect our republic and to inspire new generations of citizens that will help our democracy to flourish,” he asserts. 
If there is one American value that the young man cherishes the most is the pledge to freedom for each and every person. “I would say that the American value that I cherish the most is the commitment to freedom, since it gives people the right to express and to associate themselves in whatever way they wish. This gives them the chance to pursue their own happiness. One value that I bring with me overseas is the appreciation of diversity, since I am always amazed by different cultures and languages which provide new insights and understanding of the human experience,” he declares. 

The American man encourages his fellow expats and the people of Mauritius to promote mutual understanding. “So we may share our knowledge and to form close bonds between our two countries.” 

Jon and Katy Koehler: “Growing up in the United States, the Fourth of July was one of the holidays where the extended family would gather”

Jon and Katy

Jon and Katy, and their three kids, Elise, Agnes and Peter moved to Mauritius last July. The couple shares that they decided to make the big move for professional reasons. “We both work at the U.S. Embassy in Port Louis. Jon works in the Embassy’s public affairs office. His job is about explaining America’s story to Mauritians through press, media, and cultural exchange.

Our move here was part of a planned career rotation. We love living here,” says Katy. 

Jon started working for the U.S. Department of State 15 years ago after finishing graduate school. “He was always interested in international affairs, and the chance to serve his country doing a job he loves has been a dream. We have lived in four countries, learned three languages, and made friends around the world,” utters Katy. 

The American expats confide that the adaptation phase was not too tough. “There have been some challenges like learning to drive on the other side of the road but it has been an easy transition to live here. We enjoy the year-round summer weather, the mango and avocado trees in our backyard, and the opportunities to get outdoors. Our kids are learning new languages namely Creole and French and picking up new accents. One of our favourite things here is spending an afternoon on the beach with friends.”

Katy reveals that her family and herself enjoy the many aspects of life in Mauritius. “There are so many things to enjoy about living here. The mountains and the ocean are right at your doorstep. Our kids love their school and going to ballet, jiujitsu, and gymnastics. Jon’s work at the Embassy has opened opportunities to meet some amazing people,” she explains. 

Regarding the celebration of the Independence Day, the American woman shares that in the United States, they often travel to see family or celebrate with neighbours at home. “Either way, the day is usually filled with a community parade, cooking out with friends and family, and often ends with fireworks!  This year in Mauritius, the kids still had school, but they dressed in red, white, and blue. We listened to some classic American music, had a barbecue, and called family and friends back in the States. We hope to have another chance to celebrate with friends during the upcoming weekend!” 

The couple says that the 4th of July celebration is one of the many American holidays which provides the opportunity for family gatherings, sharing and reflection on important aspects of their history. “Growing up in the United States, the Fourth of July was one of the holidays, along with Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter, where the extended family would gather. Spending time with grandparents and hearing their stories gave us a sense of what it meant to be an American. That’s something we want our kids to experience too.” 

Speaking about American values, Jon and Katy utter that they are opening to all values. “This is the third country our kids have lived in, and each place brings new challenges and opportunities. We encourage the kids to be open and welcoming to new experiences and making new friends. We think it is important to remember the history of our country and to teach the kids as well.” 

Their message to fellow expats in Mauritius as well as the Mauritian people is to keep an open mind. “Some of the best opportunities come from being open to new experiences and meeting new people. Broaden your horizons and keep an open mind about the new things you encounter. You never know what you’ll find.” 


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