I plan to write a little bit later about my recent outings and lessons, but this post is about something that has been weighing on my mind and honestly, has hurt my heart a little bit.
Y’all, all 5’5 of me is full of southern and American pride. I like my sweet tea in a mason jar, my corn bread from a skillet, “Rocky Top” playing at an ungodly volume, and “y’all,” “ain’t,” and “bless your heart” are all part of my everyday vernacular.
Here’s the thing: I love to travel. I love experiencing everything about an unfamiliar culture: the food, the music, the attractions, and the people
. I mean, that’s a huge reason why I am in Colombia, right? Well, just because I love traveling and learning about a different culture, that does not mean I have to love everything about said culture and value it above my own. And that is okay.
Yeah, USA has its problems, but I would never abandon my birth rights and become an ex-Patriot. That seems crazy to me, but some people do it.
I don’t want to give you the impression that I hate it here, because I don’t. I love it here, but certainly not as much as I love the U S of A. I am not so patriotic to a degree where I can’t appreciate cultural and ethnic differences, but USA is my home. And any attempt to strip my pride or love for my land, is well, hurtful, and I take offense.
Since I have been here for three weeks, it is no surprise that the family has gotten more comfortable around me and I with them. When that happens, each party is more likely to say how they feel, and that can be hurtful. I really do love this family, and I appreciate their hospitality , but there have been some comments made. I am sure they do not realize that they hurt me.
For example, I had a soup with chicken, vegetables, and rice the other day. This type of dish is not foreign to the US. It also did not taste any different than any chicken and vegetable soup I have had before. I simply made the comment that we have a similar dish in the States, then three of the family members kept repeating that it was impossible because what I was eating was “typical Colombian” food. I am sure it is, but it is also something not uncommon to us in the US. I threw up a white flag in this situation like I do in every similar situation because I do not want to come across disrespectful.
That wasn’t the first time something of that nature has happened. Anytime I have mentioned a food I have eaten in the US or Honduras that they have here, someone always says, “Well, it’s better here.” Okay, I get it. Just like Americans have their pride, Colombians have theirs. I have no desire to take any of that pride away from them, and I would never say to their faces that the US has better ____ or we do _____ better. That is all a matter of opinion and should be given respectfully. Heck, I even left one of my favorite shirts at home because it had red, white, and blue plastered all over that sucker. I would not even tell my boyfriend’s mother that Mexico sucks, even if I thought it did. That’s rude, and at one point that was her home.
You may think I am overreacting, but I hear this stuff frequently. A cousin in the family that knows great English made it very clear to me that she hated the US when she said, “I hate the United States.” Okay, cool. But was it necessary to say that to someone who is from there? I didn’t even ask for her opinion. Like I said, I would never say, “I hate Colombia” to a Colombian even if I did hate this country. But I asked the cousin where all she had been in the US, and her comment lost all validity when she told me she had only been to Florida. Well, I am American, and I don’t like Florida. It isn’t a great representation of American traditions and values, so anyone who visits isn’t getting a full taste of America from Florida. But again, the white flag went up, and my mouth closed.
They did ask me one time why I didn’t get offended when they referred to me as “gringa.” For those who may not know, it is a racist term that means “white girl.” I responded that I do not get offended at racism towards me because I have no reason to be ashamed of the color of my skin or where I come from. That was the only time I ever really defended the pride I have for home.
With that said, I will be in the great nation that is the USA in less than two weeks. It’s bittersweet because I have cultivated many wonderful relationships here. But I will be excited to embrace my family at home and eat a real cheeseburger. 😉
If anything, traveling makes me more grateful and more proud to live where I do. William Shenstone put into words exactly how I feel about the matter. He said,
“The proper means of increasing the love we bear our native country is to reside some time in a foreign one.”
USA! USA! ‘MERICA! GO VOLS!