My last post chronicled a few of the responses I’ve gotten from strangers in the countries of the Eastern hemisphere I’ve visited. I shared the post. Surprising to me, my post was met with a bit of disdain here and there. I awkwardly retreated as I usually do.
Amongst the responses I did read, I was given the impression that I should be grateful for my international experiences (which I am), that I should want people who don’t know me to be interested enough in me to talk to me (which I do), and that I should reconsider the name of this website (which I won’t). All of the responses were valid opinions and experiences, besides the latter of course.
Admittedly, I find difficulty in taking harsh (or any) judgement. Within minutes, I added some extra text to the post to avoid any further misunderstandings. Still, I struggled to find ways to properly explain that I am not generally annoyed by strangers or anyone who is un-American.
Every once in while we find ourselves letting words that would elicit a punch in the face in America slide right off our back whilst traveling.
I thought of telling them, “What?! I love foreigners! I have foreign friends.” I was immediately reminded that my foreign friend, like an accused racist’s black friend or an accused homophobe’s gay friend would not suffice. Sorry, international friends, our friendship is neither a testament to my objectivity, nor is it a proper defense tactic in defending myself. I can only see the world through my own lens. We all have lenses. Mine is that of a 24 year-old woman, two years out of college and two years overseas. While I never aim to offend anybody, I’d like to be as candid as possible.
My post centered around people attempting to gain common ground with me overseas through rap, America, and sneaker references. It is quite annoying. I can’t think of a better word to describe this. Annoying is what it is. Annoying like asking a light-skinned black girl, “What are you mixed with?” Annoying like strangers in New York assuming you want to buy their terrible weed. Annoying like an ongoing defense of your political beliefs or religion or culture. Not ground-breaking, but annoying. While some people get joy out of answering these questions, others don’t. I am one of those others.
I begin and end random conversation overseas as I do with while at home: with grins, hellos, so longs, and an open mind. What these conversations consist of sometimes bore or trouble me. Every once in while we find ourselves letting words that would elicit a punch in the face in America slide right off our back whilst traveling. We attribute the difference in communication to an ignorance of culture from and towards both parties in the conversation. Continue Reading