Having spent about 5 weeks in the States last summer I can finally write a note like thar. Over several years I have been working with Americans in Egypt, Australia, and Israel, always having friends. It seems to be a German tradition to be ambivalent towards this people group though. On the positive side, I was often greatly encouraged by them. Otherwise I would not have become a teacher, switched my profession from a landscape engineer to a teacher. I have looked up to many Americans initiating great projects to help people and recruiting co-workers. Over years a few have become close friends and don’t put them in national boxes.
It has become easy to criticize Americans and calling them the “police of the world”, making fun of the valley girl talk (“It’s so amazing to see you!”) and feeling like they are hovering over other peoples’ cultures.
But understanding where they come from and why they have become like that, it was necessary for me to travel to the US and spend some time there in different places. I recommend such undertaking. Of course, I wanted to see my friends as my first priority. But why not taking notes and putting them up for discussion. Different people, different experiences! In this note I only want to put up the positive sides. Of course, you may think, once I put up a positive side there is always a down side (which I may put up in another note soon) but why not emphasizing the good things now?
1. Americans are good in making small talk. Therefore, it is good in making new friends. Generally, they want to be helpful and make you feel comfortable.
2. Generally, they seem to have a more positive outlook on life than Germans. You can tell by the compliments they are making, smiles on their faces, and emphasis on the pleasures of life.
3. There are a lot of lateral thinking Americans who like to question their own life style and who engage in improving life situations for other people. Lots of NGOs and development help organizations come from the US.
4. It seems to be a justified, tolerated, and a desired job to be a missionary in the world or having a low-paid job or rely on people’s funding serving others, especially in leadership positions, for example, Young Life and YWAM. It is generally easier to fundraise in the US.
5. The soul of Americans is sickened by September 11, 2001. Until then, almost every American thought the whole world likes them, their country and its people are very popular (our German soul is tormented by WWII having very low nationalistic feelings). It always helps me to understand a people group when I know what they are suffering from. Visiting Ground Zero in New York this summer was a great eye opener, more impressive than I thought. I would even compare the feel to visiting a concentration camp. (but who is the victim?)
6. Americans are greatly creative, art, music, movies, you name it….possible through the general sense for freedom.
7. There are lots of cool stories about how people have worked hard and it has paid off, they are successful by having dreams and aiming for them.
8. They are excellent in spreading the gospel, and doing it enthusiastically.
9. Spiritual books (secondary Christian literature) is often very good and inspiring. I feel like in many ways they are one step ahead.
10. It seems to be common that everyone can study what they like to study as long as they have the funds. The subject doesn’t really matter. There are varied combinations for majors and minors possible, for example: English, yoga, and calligraphy. You learn what you need for your job during your first jobs. Makes a different kind of sense.
11. They enjoy being friendly and polite.
12. The young generation is questioning the typical Americanism, are aware of them being not too popular or the centre of the world. They are glad of foreigners visiting their country and discussing social issues.
13. I love American holidays. Instead of having many weeks of holidays like us Germans have, their holidays are evenly spread throughout the year, every month is at least one day off from work. I especially like thanksgiving, not necessarily the realization with huge amounts of food (although I like to eat a lot, too) but the idea…family getting together, inviting one another, and taking time to be thankful.
14. Advanced technology, especially in the area of television…digital TV is crazy confusing having many TV stations, remotes, Wii included. It can make you active or complacent.
15. Dishes with eggs for breakfast. I love American breakfast.