My brother in-law who lives in Norway recently wrote to me and said ‘I can’t wait to chat with you about what it is like to be an American abroad’ giving me this idea for this blog entry.
As you know, America’s policies and actions greatly affect other countries- more so than other countries affect us. You know the saying “when America catches a cold the whole world sneezes”. It’s difficult to understand this statement until you’ve traveled and really acquainted yourselves with individuals that are not from the US.
You will find that most educated people worldwide-know more about US domestic and international policies than you do. I attributed this to the vast news channels they access and they don’t spend so much time polluting their minds with the crap masked as news that we see on Fox or other local broadcasts (I mean who really cares who Edwards slept with-JFK was actually a decent president wasn’t he- one would have to question his bedroom choices- of course it's all about rating not quality - and quality unfortunately doesn't sell (look at Walmart's popularity).
In fact why are we so obsessed with what happens in other peoples bedrooms after all (sex sells of course)????Most other countries don’t air their dirty laundry out for everyone to see (okay-so let's limit this by adding- other countries without a royal family –laugh).
Why do we avoid the tough questions and focus on our petty little issues?? –Simply look at the “issues” being discussed in the presidential debate… for god sake people- did McCain take advantage of Obama being on vacation- is this really a BBC segment worth listening to ??
So – you get my point- when some countries are dealing with issues of food costs, corruption, media prohibitions, educational challenges- we are critically talking about peoples vacations, bedroom behaviors and whining about our (still low from a global standpoint)- gas costs for our monster vehicles.
Enough on that- It’s challenging; the perception people have of Americans- some of them are more obvious and well known like that we are seen as gluttonous (we’re FAT- seriously folks- we are obscenely obese), and rich (we shop and shop and shop). Just look at the size of the vehicles parents drive- and how much "stuff" we insist on bringing when we "go anywhere". You should take a look at the list of the items- future adoptive parents- bring to Ethiopia with them- is hysterical-let's just stop there and say that it's clear that most of the world is also far less materialistically motivated than we are. These are the kind of humorous ones.
The one that troubles me the most is that we are seen as bullies in our international policies.
This is difficult for me as I am not –let’s say- politically inclined- in any way shape or form-and my opinions are usually harsh, candid and difficult to listen to-so I am going to "abstain" on elaborating on this subject.
As an American in Ethiopia- I really felt ignorant in the middle of many conversations ( and the few Americans I met that I discussed this with said they feel the same way when they travel). I did not know as much about the global economy. I learned how very geocentric the US -we have become (or always were, I'm not certain) fairly isolated from the rest of the world. I was surprised by how little I knew or really understood about global events. I didn’t know as much about world history, current events, heck I didn’t know as much about my own political situation.
I paled in comparison with my vocabulary, of course I can only speak (well) one language- the list goes on and on.. but basically- compared to the average upper middle income Ethiopian- I felt pretty damn stupid (more so than I do at home). Thank god people noticed I had a good heart and giving nature.
In most of the countries I’ve visited people are less cynical of others (than I found that we are but perhaps this is a "northeastern US attitude-giggle)- and have different expectations of people-overall as I travel I find most locations are more open and accepting to vast personality types.
American's are seen as doing a lot of good internationally on a personal level. People love the extrinsic nature most Americans are seen as possessing. This was a highlight of my feeling as an American. To be seen as charitable, giving and loving as a populace was a pleasure for me to hear.
American's are organized and clear in thought. Many other countries- specifically Ethiopia here- have difficulty planning things. We are a far more efficient culture - and I think it's because of how much we juggle in a day. Although they are very busy in Ethiopia- they are not efficient as a populace- in their day to day activities. Their thought process is not as analytical or all encompassing as many of ours are- true "planning" seems to seriously be lacking in everything from business construction to an individual's dinner plans.
That's all I can think of at the moment- and I’m not sure this topic is of interest to anyone- but I thought I’d put it out there…
The days on the long road of one families Ethiopian Adoption
This blog started out as a way to record the twists, turns, highs and lows in my families journey to adopt siblings from Ethiopia. Now our children are home and we have just finished celebrating our first year as a family.
I'm Kimberly (or Fendesha), an adventurous person who aspires to be a vagabond- but for now- I spend all of my free time travelling and my down time thinking of travelling. I'm a mom of 3 (the oldest being my gorgeous canine companion), a IT project manager, and on occasion I find myself the primary writer of this blog.
Happy Reading and thank you for stopping by.