“True wisdom listens more, talks less and can get along with all types of people. ” – Kiana Tom
Nice To Meet You, Where You from?
“Good government is no substitute for self-government.” – Mohandas Gandhi
In living abroad, one of the most common questions you will hear is “so where are you from?”. From this one little question people will immediately get an initial impression about who you are.
I am someone who doesn’t identify with any group or nation, but I play along for the sake of conversational niceties.
I always find this question to be very interesting when it is asked of me, because from just my external appearance, many people can’t really pin point where I am from.
I was born in the US but I am of Mexican decent. My name is Ivan Campuzano, so sometimes because of my name people assume I am Russian, Italian, or Spanish. I have also heard that I could pass as Asian and several other ethnicity’s. I now live in Korea and just the other day someone asked me if I was half Korean, but I think its mainly because of my glasses.
I think early on one of the reasons why I never felt any nationalistic pride, was because I grew up living between two different worlds. I eventually saw how foolish it is to be nationalistic, as it is one of main ways we divide and cause conflict in humanity.
So when people ask where I am from I will either say I am Mexican or American, but lately I am more likely to say I am from Mexico.
Now I want to tell you about my little experiment and some of my observations.
The first time I started saying I was something other than American, was on the trams of Prague. On a few occasions I did not want to be associated with the British people who where on stag party’s or belligerent loud Americans causing a raucous and disturbing everyone on the tram. Being one of the few sober foreigners, some Czech people would often ask me to please tell my friends to be quite. I would just politely say they where not my friends.
American or Mexican? What Did I Observe?
It was really interesting for me to see, that generally most people would respond in a more positive manner when I said I was from Mexico, they seemed more intrigued.
I figured this was simply because there where very few Mexicans in Prague and they found the culture to be more exotic. There is actually a big community of American Expats in Prague, so Czechs are quite used to being around Americans.
The general theme that emerged was that people seemed to be more interested in getting to know me, when I said I was from Mexico. They would ask more personal questions in effort to try to understand me and where I was from. Whenever I said I was from America, many times it would inevitability turn into a political or economic conversation. Not my idea of fun.
America Land of The….
The basic gist of my observations from these past few years, is that America is no longer the America that the whole world believed it to be. The word is out, America is in deep trouble. It really is quite amazing that in one decade, our government has essentially committed suicide, and it’s actions have negatively influenced the worlds view of the American people.
I am just generalizing but many people from around the world now hold the view that Americans are stupid, uninformed, violent, and only care about themselves. Please… I don’t mean to attack anyone, as I know for the most part this is not true, but because of our government and the corporate media, this is how many people see us.
I am also curious to hear about the experiences of other people who have traveled abroad. What reactions did you observe when people asked you where you are from? Please leave your comments below, I would love to hear about your own findings.
I am a Citizen of The World
“I have no country to fight for: my country is the earth, and I am a citizen of the world.” – Eugene V. Debs
I think we are in a critical point in how we see our selves in relation to the world. I really feel that we all need to have a more worldly attitude. One where we do not separate ourselves by race, creed, color, national origin, sex, political affiliation, or beliefs, but simply see each other as brothers of the only race, which is to simply be human. This takes a tremendous amount of self understanding, its a huge jump from where we are currently at, but a jump we must make if we are to prosper in the future.
So next time someone asks me where I am from, you may hear me say “planet earth”, they may think I am a complete weirdo and walk away 🙂 , but hopefully one day they say “me too” nice to meet you.
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