You, and the 55-60 million other Americans who travel abroad each year, have a unique opportunity to change at least some impressions of us from negative to positive. By following the few simple suggestions in this guide, you can have a better travel experience while showing America’s best face to those you visit.
I came across this, the World Citizens Guide, the other day while Russia-ing at work. It's a State Department-funded project to improve the reputation of Americans abroad through 'personal diplomacy', meaning more or less don't be a dick. Some of its wisdom-nuggets:
In many countries, boasting is considered very rude. It’s easy to resent big, powerful people. Assume resentment as a default and play down your wealth, power and status.
Subtext: You are big and powerful. Europeans are jealous of your 6-wheel-drive Dodge Dakota, your 12-speaker home entertainment center, and your bumper sticker that says "No fat chicks. Car will scrape."
Try to speak some of the language even if the only thing you can say is “Hello.” And “Thank you.” It’s okay to sound like a child.
Subtext: You will suck at this. 'Moshi moshi', 'guten tag', and even fucking 'hola' will render you a drooling infant. Better to just speak English very loudly and very slowly. When confronted with someone who doesn't speak English, the correct expression is: "You don't speak English?! Come on, bro."
Refrain from lecturing. Whether on pollution, energy usage or the environment, it’s not a polite stance. Nobody likes a know-it-all, and nobody likes a whole nation of them.
Dialogue instead of monologue. When you’re talking about the U.S. and your life there, ask people you’re visiting how what you’ve said compares to what they do and how they live in their country.
Subtext: You are not a fully-formed human being. Things like 'conversation' and 'listening' confuse and frighten you. Better to refrain from discussing sensitive topics altogether. Stick to universals, such as "So, who do you guys think is gonna win 'American Idol' this year?"
Be proud, not arrogant. People around the world are fascinated by the U.S. and the lives we Americans live. They admire our openness, our optimism, our creativity and our “can-do” spirit. But that doesn’t mean they feel less proud of their country and culture.
Subtext: You are open, optimistic and fascinating. Respect other cultures as far as common courtesy allows, but don't let that take time away from discussing all the things you Can Fucking Do. Make sure to point out when other countries embody a "Can't-Don't" spirit. I'm looking at you, Liechtenstein.
The guide also includes fun facts about countries you might be visiting with your revolutionary new 'interacting with others' skills.
In Norway, 40% of the Parliament and almost half of the cabinet positions are filled by women.
In Japan, it is considered rude to look at a person directly in the eye for more than a few seconds.
Subtext: Every Norwegian is 40 percent sissy. And never look at Japanese people directly. They are shifty and inhumanly agile, and not to be trusted. Also, what's a 'cabinet'?
Read and post comments | Send to a friend