Snapshots #4: Thanks, America

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.

  1. 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?).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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?



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2 responses to “Snapshots #4: Thanks, America

  1. love this. i completely identify with being a closeted patriot, outed when spending holidays abroad. my favorite memories of india include blowing stuff up on the rooves of various NGOs while visiting during 4th of July (as we all know, it’s not america’s birthday unless you’re blowing something up.)

    thanks for sharing!

  2. … also, it’s too bad the honor and idealism we give to helping professions doesn’t pay well. i mean, when have you last heard of an overpaid teacher? maybe that’s just my bias after having accidentally stumbled into a social work job.

    also, as a newfound national park junkie, resident of denver (where all of our neighborhoods are named after the parks they surround) and long time transplant to india, i also appreciate the green spaces here. grass. lack of garbage. even in the indian equivalent of natioanl parks in india, you’ll find garbage, graffiti and a million people. some of that, i think, has to do with the sites being thousands of years old. the rest, though, i think is a tragedy of the commons.

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