Thursday, February 5, 2009


When I first traveled to England, I found out for the first time what some of the stereotypes of Americans are around the rest of the world. We are known as arrogant, ignorant, and rude. We all own guns, have been on reality TV shows, have had a divorce or an affair and watch wrestling on TV. I also was asked interesting things like, “Oh, you are from Chicago? My grandma lives in Florida! Do you know her?!”
It always interests me that people from other countries try to categorize the United States, as if we were one big, cohesive culture like theirs. We aren’t, and we can’t be. My culture was never meant to be. Since the very beginning immigrants came to the United States to escape their home culture. Now, of course, immigrants such as yourselves come for very different reasons. Economics, opportunity, and pleasure. Some of my ancestors came because they could not stay it their country. If they had they would have faced persecution. When the Europeans came they threw away their culture to become “American,” to start over. As a result, many White Americans today don’t know their heritage. Obviously, Black Americans do not know their cultural heritage because of the unfortunate circumstances many were brought over for; the ugly truth of slavery. These are just two of the many people groups in the United States, so it’s silly to try and make a generalization about ALL Americans.
As to my interesting question, the boy who asked that had no idea that the United States is about 50 times the size of his country. The US is HUGE. We can get away with having big yards, wide roads and so on because there is still so much open land here. I guess that translates to our need for”personal space” (don’t get too close to some Americans because you will make them very uncomfortable) and to our large meal sizes.
Since the US is so big, most people are not concerned with the rest of the world. They have their own issues, adventures, family and friends to be found here. They know we are a pretty powerful nation and have much pride, but they don’t think about that on a daily basis. I would say a small percentage of Americans are the ones that travel. If they travel outside of the country, it’s because they want to, not because they have to. Many international students come here for a better future, Americans leave because they have a sense of adventure and they think it will be fun. Sometimes they do it because they think they can earn good money by being fluent in another language, but that would take a lot of dedication, and it’s not common.
I suppose I said all of that to say that, yes, of course, the United States has their issues. All cultures do, there is no such thing as a perfect culture. The United States is unique in the fact that it is a nation made of all the cultures. There is someone from every part of the world here, and if they are born here or have gone through the proper channels of immigration, they are all equally just as “American.” Our culture, as a result, doesn’t think much of tradition, or draw many detailed lines between people groups. The deepest we go is White, Black, Asian, etc…. So if we don’t know about your culture. Please forgive us, until we met you we had no reason to. It’s your job as the international who came to this nation, whatever the reason, to be an ambassador of your people group. When I travel, I know I will be and I intent to set the records straight!!