Every time I solo travel, I’m much quieter than I am back home. I don’t want people to know that I’m not a local, and I think (especially in Mediterranean countries) that if I don’t open my mouth, passerbys won’t think twice. But if they know I’m a not a local, I’m usually reluctant to reveal that I’m from the United States.
I love my country, I love my state, and I love my city. But I know what the rest of the world’s perception is of my country. And if we’ve only got two seconds to pass each other on the street, I frequently prefer to avoid the disapproving glances. And when we sit down for a longer conversation, I typically find myself running through a similar stream of answering questions about wars, racism, and our lack of care for the environment. But I know we’re not the center of the world, and it’s why I try to leave home as much as possible. Not to get further away from a place that I’m embarrassed by, but so that I can gain perspective from as many of these equally deserving places as possible.
Believe me, I am fully aware that these stereotypes are MINOR inconveniences that I have to deal with as a white, financially stable, American, male. But, I’m proud to say that in three presidential elections, I’ve never voted for one for president*. Although I would have if the outcome of the Democratic primaries had been different.
This morning, with the results of the 2016 presidential elections announced, I am more reluctant than ever to admit that I’m American. The majority of my country has voted for a man who embraces so many of these stereotypes that I’m embarrassed by. So as I pack my bag up for Spanish classes today (a language that 41 million people in the US speak as a native language), I have a few phrases bookmarked today…
Que paso? – What happened?
Desconcertado – embarrassed / bewildered
Liberales y Conservadores – Liberals and Conservatives
La barrera – wall / barrier
No quiero guerra – I don’t want war
Estoy orgulloso de mi estado (Connecticut) – I’m proud of my state (Connecticut)
I hope I don’t get swirlied by the school bullies.
*line taken from David Kroman in my Facebook feed.