Here’s a past essay from 2008:
My sister called me yesterday and said she read that Americans are no longer thought of by other nations as the most obnoxious of travelers; that distinction is now held by the French. Americans are now 9th or 10th on the list, it seems. So we’re still obnoxious, just not as much as we used to be. I told her maybe it was because of the economy; fewer Americans are traveling abroad, so there are probably fewer of them to make a bad impression.
I’ve never been outside the U.S. (except for visiting Miami, which FEELS like another country), but I have a very good friend in Japan who I correspond with and talk with weekly. I am always interested in her observations, as she is intensely interested in the U.S. However, because we are friends, we are careful to never insult one another’s country or its people, and sometimes I like a more candid look at how we’re doing as Americans.
From my travels around the web I have read on a website for new visitors and immigrants to the U.S. that, “Unless you know an American very well, it is not a good idea to criticize American society, apparent social injustices in America, or American ways of doing things. Americans usually think their way of doing things is either the best way or the only way.” Ouch. I hate to admit it, but that’s unfortunately true in many cases. And I think some of the reason for that comes from the next statement, “They have little exposure to or knowledge of other cultures.” That is also, unfortunately, true.
I like to think of myself as reasonably well read. I try to stay up on world events, and have a particular interest in what goes on in Asian countries, mainly because my friend lives there. But I have to say that sometimes I actually give very little thought to what’s going on in the rest of the world outside the U.S., and that’s too bad. As a nation we’re so used to being the center of the universe, or at least of OUR universe.
My Japanese friend is educating me and helping me think outside the box of my own country. I wonder what we’d be like if each of us had someone helping us do that? It’d likely be a very different world.
Let’s think outside the box today…