Learning from America

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- SRIJANA RAI

Mar 9, 2018-A  picture posted on Facebook went viral in Nepal a few months ago. It showed a man drowning in a river and another man on the bank taking photos instead of rescuing him. I spoke about this when I was asked “What do you or your country fellows think about US citizens?” during a tour of different high schools in California as part of my teaching fellowship. 

If I’m not mistaken, all the students in the class in addition to the teacher enjoyed it. Everyone laughed. To some extent, it’s true. It isn’t their fault; it’s part of their culture. How someone behaves in a particular place can be directly linked with how someone is brought up in a family environment. US citizens rarely introduce themselves as Americans. They prefer to call themselves US citizens. It’s good that the term ‘United States’ can help inculcate a sense of unity and togetherness in all growing children across the US, a big nation. 

In response to the question about the culture of leaving home at the age of 18 or above, most American parents claim that it’s their culture and that it teaches adolescents to make independent decisions and be self-reliant. It’s a bit painful in the beginning, yet they’re happy with this custom. They mind their business and keep on working like busy honeybees. Yes, I talked to a few teachers. They too said that they’re unaware of many bombing incidents in the Middle East and they just take care of their business. What is very notable is hard work. They respect all levels of work. All work should be worshipped. 

The US is doing a commendable job promoting programs such as the one I experienced. They are investing a lot of money in exchange programmes to establish mutual understanding between people of the United States and people of other countries around the world, through a wide range of international exchange programmes as authorised by the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961. This initiative helps to clear stereotyped beliefs, wrong impressions and varying assumptions. Participants also benefit greatly from such programmes. There’re also good stories to share about American culture. I, along with two other colleagues got lost, but we weren’t far from the hotel we were staying in. We asked a lady for directions. She took us to a restaurant where her family were having dinner. We joined her family for the meal. Moreover, they dropped us at the hotel. On the bus too, Americans interacted with us with gratitude. I was moved by the courtesy and helpfulness of the bus drivers. Every bus can lower its front part to allow physically-challenged people to get on the bus. People aren’t reluctant to direct or guide foreigners when they are in difficulty. They’re polite too. We can learn a lot from American culture. 

Published: 09-03-2018 08:03

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