Sorry for the delay in this post – I had it written yesterday, but power was out all night. Better late than never!
I am always amazed at how patriotic I become when I am away from the States. My typical interaction with American culture/politics/church/entitled-lifestyle (and the potent mix of all four), is marked by a slight amount of disdain and snarkiness. I like to think of myself as a global citizen, with no political ties powerful enough to entangle me in the policies and attitudes of a particular country.
But take me away from America for a good chunk of time, and I am amazed at the patriotic pride that wells up in me when I think about my passport country. Along with the things I knew I missed from the States (blueberries, cream cheese, enforced traffic laws, changing seasons, wearing shorts, etc), I’ve started to recogize a few cultural ideas that I miss about the American psyche, too – some, the result of a nation born by rebels and pioneers, others, the result of a nation accustomed to leisure and independence.
- Rooting for the underdog. Okay, maybe this is more Disney than America. But I do appreciate how much Americans side with the underdog (although perhaps more in pop culture than in political/social policies?).
- Nothing is impossible if you [believe] [dream] [work hard] [follow your heart]. I can’t tell you the number of times I have wanted to bang my head against the wall after hearing from another vendor/official here in Uganda – “No, what have you asked is impossible.” I like the kind of creativity and determination that “you-can-do-it”ism idea instills in American education and society.
- How every child dreams of being a [super]hero. Americans love heroes. Here in Uganda, though, successful business men, women secure in their careers and riches – those are common role models for schoolchildren here, instead of teachers or firemen. I appreciate the honor and value that we place on helping professions.
- Nature should be preserved, explored and celebrated. I really miss national parks and natural woodlands. Uganda is one of the most fertile places on the planet but there is a sad lack of public green spaces – people are either just scraping by, through subsistence farming on their land, or are trying to move to the city to get an office job.
What are your thoughts? Am I looking at America through rose-colored glasses after a year’s absence? What do you appreciate about the USA?