I am hard on America. I am really good at being critical at our faults, at exposing our values, and at putting doubt into our accomplishments. I truly believe many of these criticisms are merited. It’s no secret that over the last decade, American has gone through some tough times. This is made easier by the black hole of negatively exposed through our media. Sometimes we really forget how great our country is, and how far we have come.
One of the great things about working for RCDP is I get to experience a variety of cultures while being abroad. Volunteers from all across the world come to experience the beauty and ugliness of Nepal. Not only do I get to compare myself to Nepalis, but also Europeans, Australians, Canadians, Asians… etc. Though Nepal is the overwhelming culture I’m exposed to, I get bits and pieces of the rest.
What does American mean to the rest of the world? What does it mean to Europe? To Australia? To Nepal?
I think one of the most shocking things to me coming to Nepal was how much the people are engrossed in America culture. Though some will have their pointed criticisms, for the most part Nepalis love the culture of America. If you ask any intelligent Nepali where they would like to study abroad, America is almost always #1, followed by Britain and Australia. They watch our TV Shows, they sing our music, they eat our food. They see America as this beacon of world development and opportunity, far from the physical and political dirt of Nepal. In America, you can have a live with cars, with clean houses, with traffic that’s predictable , with clean air and water. The American dream lives in, even when a time when it’s image is tarnished. Though India may have the strongest cultural influence to Nepal, American life is still seen as the best.
Europeans and Australians are more skeptical. America is more a myth than a real place. They have good standards of life and rich cultures, why would they need more of… America? This sentiment is far stronger among the Europeans than the Australians. In fact, of all the people I’ve meet Auzzies and Americans are by far the most similar. Besides the accent, a few slang words, and some cultural variances, Auzzie life is the most similar than any country I’ve encountered.
And guess what country no one mentions wanting to immigrate to? China. I guess you can be the world’s up-and-coming economic powerhouse, but without the cultural dominance and livable cities, no one wants to move there. There is still something magnificent American has, that the world wants. For all its faults and for all my criticism, I can see the uniqueness and beauty of America like never before.