As one of the assignments for the Becoming Globally Engaged class, students are expected to respond to reflection prompts on a weekly basis. Here is the prompt and my response for the week of Sep 17, 2015.
How did you react to the perspectives on the United States that you encountered this week? What stood out the most to you? Why? How will that influence your thoughts or actions in the future – either here or abroad?
For the most part I found the perspectives on the United States to be interesting, especially the viewpoint, “where are all the people?”. Compared to many other countries, the United States is very carbased, mostly due to oil company’s control over congress and lobbying efforts when major cities were being developed about 100 years ago. This is something that as an American I dread; it’s bad for the environment and our nation’s health.
However, something that I am actually quite proud of as an American is our nation’s pride, and that is why it shocked and, I might admit, slightly angered me as many of the panelists exposed criticism for our nation’s pride and patriotism, even going so far as to say it is harmful and that Americans shouldn’t be as patriotic. Our patriotism and sense of nationhood is one of the few braggable things about the United States; it’s what brings us together close and strong when disasters hit or when there are national tragedies such as terrorist attacks. Although the stereotypical image of a redneck shooting a shotgun, yelling “‘Merica!”, might be an international joke when discussing Americans, it is only because our strong sense of patriotism that during things such as the Moore tornado, the entire nation provides aid and support. I feel as though those providing criticism might lack a true understanding of the patriotism they see overly expressed on July 4th, however there is a great deal of difference between nationalism and patriotism.
Moving on from this panel, though, in looking at how it will influence my actions in the future, I will think a lot harder about my opinions when exploring the global community. There will be traditions and customs that I will encounter that may scare me and anger me as an American, and yet it may simply be my misunderstanding or simply the fact that I didn’t grow up with those things that is causing my discomfort. The opinions expressed in the panel have definitely made me think harder into what it means to see things from both sides, and going forward I feel as though my experiences abroad will be more engaging and meaningful as I’ll better be able to get past elements of culture shock.
The global community is a vastly different place across the board, despite the growth and spread of popular western culture, and as a global engagement fellow representing the United States it will be my duty to be more open minded.