I just received Rick's package of:
"Travel as a Political Act" book,
"The Story of Fascism in Europe" DVD,
Rick's lecture based on his experiences, "Travel as a Political Act,"
"Travel Skills" 2 DVD set,
"Europe, Best Destinations" booklet.
These were premiums for my donation to my local PBS station, and a great addition to my travel library. I highly recommend them, because when we travel, not only are we learning about their cultures, they're developing (or changing) their opinion of Americans.
I wanted to mention several interactions I had in England when I traveled there not long ago. Whenever I stood in queue for an event or waiting for the opening of an attraction, I'd talk to the people waiting there with me. I deliberately kept my American accent, as I was curious as to what their view of Americans was. (I could very well have drifted into the Enlgish accent, having lived there over several summers in the late 1960's) I was asked, more than once on my trip, "What part of Canada are you from?" to which I replied, "Los Angeles."
They gave me a puzzled look, as if to say, "How can you be an American? You're not at all what I expected to experience from an American!"
What they see on television, from our politics, mass shootings, political hysteria, and exported, sensationalized television shows (Jerry Springer, CSI -everywehre, fill in the blank), and of general ignorance of Europe, is actually how some of them have formed an opinion of us!
I talked with them, explained a little about where I grew up, what I studied in college, how I came back after 40+ years to see how things have changed (far more international, having heard Chinese, Nigerian, Russian, Indian, and other accents as I walked through the South Bank), and wanting to see as much as I could in the 3 weeks I was there, the interesting sights I had seen and hoped to see, and the people. I think they had quite a different take on America after meeting me!
When we travel, we're ambassadors of our country to every person we meet. Just as we learn about the culture of other countries, we're affecting how they perceive Americans. I would hope that we leave a more positive message than what our news programs project.
I asked a docent at Warwick Castle of her oddest experience with an American. She related the following: There was an American woman, middle aged, who was wandering around, taking in at all the arms and armor, the various rooms of the castle, and then told her, "Imagine! They made this castle just for tourists!" (Groan! The woman thought this was just like Disneyland!) We both had a laugh about that one! She patiently told the woman that this was an actual castle, begun in 1070 a.d. and added to over the centuries.
If this were your only experience with an American, what would you think????????