I love being an American. Let me start there. I don't hesitate to tell anyone on the backpacking trail that I'm from the United States for fear of rejection. People will choose whether or not they like you if you show them who you are as an individual, aside from where you come from. That's true of meeting anyone anywhere for the first time. Ask plenty of questions instead of beating them over the head with what you're all about and the rest will follow in due time.
As much as I love my nationality, I don't agree with everything we do. I'll be the first to admit my resentment for the lack of international studies in the states.
What do I mean by this?
- The first time I was introduced to a 2nd language was at age 14.
- The first real geography course I took where I was instructed to study and memorize maps (aside from the 50 states and capitals) was in a college course.
- Lessons in Globalization & international politics are not prioritized.
90% of the people I meet from different parts of the world can speak 2 or more languages. Many are fluent in 5! They can talk global affairs with such a well-rounded perspective because they were taught the importance of looking at the WHOLE world, not just what is happening in their spot on the map.
Americans are extremely hard workers and I say that with pride. We work 40+ per week to provide for our families and make sure that our children are given the things our forefathers wanted us to have. Most countries work to live, Americans live to work. It's not our fault that work ethic is a major part of our nation's values, but you have to wonder how much they value us as individuals when you look at American standards in comparison to different countries.
Have you ever discussed maternity leave in a group full of international friends? I dabbled in the subject with some Canadians on a train from Rome to Chiusi and the look of shock is something I WISH I could have captured.
Need I say more?
What are we telling the rest of the world about our values?
What are we telling ourselves?
Is this the American dream?