We are proud to be Americans. We wave flags and repeat the Pledge of Allegiance and paste "God Bless America" bumper stickers on our cars and convince ourselves that we are the most powerful and advanced nation in the world.
It's easy to feel proud to be an American when we are surrounded by Americans. Pride is not the prominent emotion I've felt when interacting with students from other nations. More often I've been embarrassed to be an American.
I met a fellow American, at the orientation meeting for all the Conversation Pods at SVSU, who could represent the stereotypical American. He was big, loud, friendly, and culturally insensitive. A group of ten or so of us, two Americans and the rest of the students from China, Taiwan and India, introduced ourselves. One of the students from India introduced himself as Aashish. My fellow American remarked that his dad smoked that in the seventies.
The student from Taiwan brought a Chinese student to our Conversation Pod on Wednesday night. He's only been in the United States for a month, but he's quite a storyteller and delighted in his audience. He told us about baking biscuits, about using the APA format to write a paper, and about trying to read the New York Times. Though he's found Americans to be polite, he told us, he's not found them to be overly friendly. Recently when he was eating his lunch in the cafeteria, a girl sat down opposite him. He was was excited about finally making an American friend. He was startled when the American girl looked across the table and asked him, "Do you eat dog?"
I am glad to be an American, but I am not always proud to be an American.