I’m not a huge proponent of national pride. That’s not to say I don’t love my country, but I feel, in the chaotic scheme of life, humans were dumped onto different landmasses and that was that. From then on, our environment and available natural resources shaped us into the cultures we are today.
It surprises me then to hear stories of American travelers abroad assuming Canadian identities, wearing the maple leaf flag on their backpacks or attempting – often fruitlessly – to take on a stereotypical Canadian accent.
So what’s the deal, eh?
For some, this question is an age-old given: The history of the United States precedes its reputation. While I’ve heard stronger words used to express this wonderfully uplifting sentiment, I’ve recently come across other bolder statements as to why America is seen in such a nasty light. Take for instance, the video below.
The footage proves its points. Two, really. The first is that Americans are entirely ignorant of the world around them. The second is that the entire United States must be this aloof, seeing as how every individual shown in the montage answers incorrectly, often absurdly.
While the wonders of technology have made it possible for news programs and other talking heads in the media to edit content and tailor it to their own credos, it has also opened the opportunity to spread misinformation and create insular-minded viewers.
The video, however, does not lie entirely. It does effectively show the abject ignorance of a number of Americans using a clever off-the-streets approach. It does spin a hilarious, if not, appalling angle when several passers by seem to think that Kofi Annan is a beverage or professional golfer.
I must admit that the first time I watched the video, I was rendered speechless with disgust and amazement as each individual gave their best crack at a country beginning with “U” or sputtered stupidly as they struggled to recall the currency of the United Kingdom. (If they ever knew it in the first place.)
At a certain point, I began to feel ashamed of my country, believing myself that this was the essence of all Americans: unaware and utterly unrepentant for being so.
Yet, keeping in mind the source of information, I can safely say I can counter most of the arguments expounding upon the negative perspectives of Americans abroad.
As a penniless writer for Family Travel Forum and a judge for the Teen Travel Scholarship, I’ve had the opportunity to read countless essays (Didn’t see this coming when I interviewed. Kidding, FTF) from kids and teens who have traveled all over the world. Whether they were helping others through an organization or simply chilling with their family and loved ones at the beach, I’ve come across the most interesting and introspective pieces, written by individuals who have a much more profound view of the world than I do. (Not that this should be altogether too surprising.)
Often, I encounter essays written by students traveling through France, who, upon entering Paris, experience the “rude” attitude of the French people. Upon leaving, however, a common theme concludes with a young tourist realizing that the “attitude” is simply a pre-conceived reaction to intruding foreigners or perhaps the misconception of the foreigners themselves.
Nevertheless, America’s reputation and global policies continue to dog travelers wherever they go, making it more difficult to fit in and easier to claim citizenship in, say, Montreal. At the same time, the media has been doing its own part in creating such perceptions across the globe.
As I’m not a huge fan of wrap-ups, summaries and conclusions, I’ll leave the reader to reflect upon their own views and experiences on the matter. I have a list of questions, but I’d rather leave the floor open to any comments, relevant videos, disagreements or agreements – Just remember, there is no right and wrong. Some ideas just happen to be better than others.
Photo Courtsey of freshwebdesignni.com.
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