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We are not alone (guest post by husband)

we are not alone

According to an article of National Geographic, young Americans score less than other countries on questions about geography. The article is based on this survey.

Even if I think that the survey is not perfect because it uses a sample of only 512 people and even if I think that the title of the article “Young Americans Geographically Illiterate, Survey Suggests” is incorrect because litteracy is more about the ability to communicate, the article still reflects a general trend that I felt while living in America.

Indeed, I felt like living in an island, as the picture suggests. A big island, but still an island. I felt isolated from the rest of the world because almost nothing came in the United States that was from the outside. No music, no news, no nothing. This is not because America is not free, on the contrary, it is a very free society but it is because the Americans simply don’t care.

At first, I thought that it was because they were somehow afraid by the outside. For example, I remember that one of my college teachers told me that her husband wouldn’t travel in a country that did not speak english! Now I know that he simply didn’t want to bother having to deal with this little inconvenience.

Why would he? I remember hearing all the time ” We live in the greatest country in the world” (although I don’t really know what they mean by great) or “America is the most powerful country in the world”, which is true politically, economically and militarilly but does that mean that we should not counsider the outside? Does America live in a culture that says that the only thing that matters is something that is powerful?

Every night I was waiting for my international news on TV, which lasted all of one minute for news from all around the world. Sad.

Now that I live out of the island, I am wondering if education should be all about learning business, job, building relationships or if culture matters a little. Especially international culture because the United States is dealing with international affairs in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, South Korea. Maybe would the Americans see that they cannot just launch wars in countries so different from the western world, that think differently.

Culture matters.

Just think about it!

Vilay (Window to France – fr)

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Blurp by Pumpkin:

If anyone would ever be interested in writing a post for Thinking Thursday, please, contact me using the contact form found on the top navigation bar or email me at myfrenchwindow (at) gmail (dot) com.

I never really thought about having guest posts on Thinking Thursday until today. My husband and I were talking about the article that he posted about and I told him as a joke he should do my Thinking Thursday post. He said that he would like to do it and I decided to let him. It is good to have another voice from time to time.

I welcome your voices anytime you want to be heard. Let me know if you ever want to post and I will be happy to have your voice on my blog. You may post with or without a link to your blog as well as your name or no name.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • kim May 4, 2006, 1:24 pm

    Excellent post mr. pie!! Thomas says this all the time, or similiar, and as soon as he mentioned it, I thought, how true, but before that, I had never thought about it!

    Cultures are sooooooooooooooo important, I wish every little american, could really have a talk or friendship or whatever, just to really get to know the other, and learn about the different cultures everywhere.

    Sometimes you just have to look through someonelse’s eyes, to really see things!
    yayay, i’m the first to comment again:)

  • carra May 4, 2006, 4:49 pm

    I have mentioned before and I will repeat myself again I have never been to US or any part of North America, but I did indeed have a few pen pals in US while I was living in Lithuania. I found it amusing how they were not aware not where Lithuania was (as I am pretty used to it) but that they had very little knowledge of Europe at all. It seemed like my pen pals imagined that Europe was Eiffel Tower in Paris, and Big Ben in London, end of. No more no less. I was so shocked because I still remember learning at school during Geography lessons a little about all the countries of the world (so at least we know where they are) and a lot about big and powerful countries (i.e. US, Russia, UK, France etc.) I knew a lot of history about US and other countries (I remember asking my teacher during history lesson why did French people keep on “choping” the heads of their kings!). I didn’t expect other nationals to know about Lithuania as it is so small, but when my American pen pals used to ask silly questions about Europe (like, how big is it?) I was shocked. I think it is an educational mistake that the American children are not aware about other countries existance, I think it’s not fair – they loose a lot! As Kim mentioned the cultures are so important and in US the country that probably is home for all the different cultures that exist (if someone would look they would probably find people with the backround of every country of the world!) they should pay more attention teaching about other countries and their culture. Maybe then there would be more understanding. Though few weeks ago there was a revolution type situation in Philipines and i didn’t see anything about it on the news here in France, they do mention the UK sometimes though (and other countries) I can’t imagine something much worse!

  • buzzgirl May 4, 2006, 5:05 pm

    I love that photo…it’s spot on!

    When I was in Paris, I had lunch with Eric (parisdailyphoto.blogspot.com). He had just returned from a 12 day trip to the US. He talked about how news in the US is a joke…and he’s right.

    I don’t understand this country’s unwillingness to embrace or, often, even acknowledge the world beyond its borders (of course, we don’t even encourage our students to learn another language beyond English, and in fact, often discourage it..)

    Though I’m not surprised by the survey, I am saddened.

    Oh – and a quick note -the problems the US is having are with North Korea (Kim Jong-Il).

  • vilay May 4, 2006, 5:22 pm

    South Korea is where the U.S. troops are (for the moment), that is what I meant. Why do they discourage learning other languages? And who discourages them?

  • katrina May 4, 2006, 5:52 pm

    We’re fed what the media and government want to feed us. There are Americans who bother to read and check on international news, events etc. There are those of us who travel to other countries and attempt to learn the language and traditions before we go. I dislike when the rest of the world lumps us all into a bunch of isolationists that think dumb ass bush is god. There are intelligent, open minded Americans, but they just don’t make for good news stories. Only the bad gets portrayed.

  • vilay May 4, 2006, 7:18 pm

    I know. My old boss in America was a francophile and a francophone for that matter. He spoke Spanish as well. But he seemed to me that his case was unusual in Dayton, Ohio.

  • carra May 4, 2006, 8:39 pm

    Katrina, good point. Respect.
    I am non english speaking person but I swear I never thought of Americans that way (I did meet the inteligent and the silly but not stupid ones), plus the dear owner of this wonderful blog herself is intelligent and not boring American. And i never sort people or nations by stupid and inteligent there is both everywhere. I hope I did not insult anyone here.

  • kim May 5, 2006, 2:22 am

    I think sadly our country likes to keep us ignorant, aren’t ignorant people easier to control, just look at our current president, to him ignorance is bliss. Just imagine that the freak never traveled outside of the godforsaken US before he became president, ayayaya, don’t get me started!

  • Bernadette May 5, 2006, 3:19 am

    I came across your blog about a week ago and have really enjoyed reading your posts. Your husband’s post about Americans is really compelling. Sadly, as Katrina noted…the media, education system, and government here in America severely limit true cultural awareness. Unavoidably, we are all impacted by our environment…both positively and negatively. Americans often don’t feel an “incentive” to be culturally aware and that is very arrogant. However, that general feeling comes from what we learn about our country. Our history books are filled with lies about wars and so then are American children who eventually become adults and active participants in the shaping of society. And so the lies continue.

    I do feel that American culture places too much value in money, meritocracy, and power. And yes, there are quite a few of us that do strive to be open minded and aware. With that said, I do struggle living here in America. It is hard to escape the consumerism, greed, and the steady obsession with efficiency and power. And I know that these issues cannot be escaped completely…they are just so predominant here.

    I am a francophile myself, learning to speak French, and always seeking out opportunities to learn about other cultures. I often think about moving to France but in the meantime, I really enjoy reading blogs like this, sharing in other people’s experiences, and being able to discuss issues such as this one. Thanks!

  • Pumpkin May 5, 2006, 9:03 am

    Bernadette, That is what I told my husband….Americans don’t feel an incentive or need to learn other cultures and speak another language. Although Spanish is becoming very important in America and will be required as a second language one day. I wish more Americans would travel. Yesterday, while walking in the city of Strasbourg there were elderly Americans all over the place. It must have been a big group that traveled together. They were having the best time.

  • John Bigham May 5, 2006, 4:01 pm

    Looks like you hit the nail on the head. You seem to view American Society as most Americans do: perplexing. The general egocentrism of the American government is paralleled only to it’s greed and lust for contol. The American Media wants the general populous to think that there is no world outside with the exception of the military which uses travel to the mysterious and foreign lands as a way to trick young kids into getting shot. The people who are concerned with the world abroad are viewed as strange. Another interesting aspect that you may or may not know is that the Media always portrays these soldiers as heros who remain undefeated and never report any American Soldier casualties so that the people won’t ask any questions as to why we’re fighting a war in which we have no purpose and are having out kids die. I also saw a moment ago on BBC News that the US has once again denied torture of terror suspects and this is the first I’ve heard of it. I certainly hope this enlightens you as to the general ignorance of the public. If you need any more understanding just try and figure out what kind of people would elect George W. Bush to be in charge because I’ve been trying to figure that one out for years and the only explination I can reason is general ignorance.

  • Bernadette May 5, 2006, 4:48 pm

    Americans really don’t feel that incentive, unless it is tied to business. When I tell people that I am learning French and then would like to move on to Italian from there…I get dumbfounded responses such as, “What do you plan on doing with those languages?” Japanese and Spanish seem to be more acceptable these days as there are business/commerce needs that make those languages “valuable.” But why isn’t there more emphasis on learning languages, not to inflate our resumes, but rather…to expand our awareness and appreciation of culutre?

    I agree that travel really broadens one’s cultural awareness. But it depends on what kind of travel. A lot of wealthy people I know tend to take their vacations at resorts that are very Americanized if not already in America. Again, there doesn’t seem to be much genuine motivation to really travel…to immerse oneself in another culture.

    And all of this really just makes me feel like moving! :-)

    By the way, your Freiburg photos are beautiful. It looks like such a gorgeous place!

  • Pumpkin May 5, 2006, 7:06 pm

    It is true that travel should be about experiencing the culture of another country or you should just stay at home. I know many Americans that told me that they would never travel outside of the US because they want to only spend money in their own country! While I traveled around America (it is beautiful there), I still wanted to see other countries. For me it was an adventure as well as interesting to know something new.

    *****
    Freiburg is just beautiful. I really enjoy our daytrips there.

    Yesterday we were in Strasbourg as well and let me tell you I fell in love with this city that is my home all over again. I had pinch myself to be sure that I was not dreaming!

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