*Warning: Vast generalisations follow.
Okay, I must admit, I’m not too neutral or sympathetic on most issues regarding America and its relations with the rest of the world and, having recently read David Barsamian’s enlightening interviews with Noam Chomsky entitled Imperial Ambitions, my feelings on the subject were further entrenched and reinforced. The recent utterings of Bush on how he admits the Abu Ghraib tortures and abuses were a mistake, neglecting to mention the rest of genocide in Iraq, saying that "Despite setbacks and missteps, I strongly believe we did and are doing the right thing." Bush at his finest.
Setbacks? Missteps? That’s a nice way of putting it. Anyways, these are just some of the things which have made me decide to rant on the issue of Americans a bit.
At the different schools I’ve been teaching at the majority of teachers come from the States. They can be classified into three general categories. In this first post I would like to describe what I call the Young Yanks: The young Americans who have come to teach to see the world, experience life and make some money while they’re at it (not unlike Christoff and myself).
The thing is, these young Yanks, well those I have met, are mostly from the big cities on the East and West Coast (LA, Ney York, San Francisco). They think they’re more than just pawns in the game, so much so that they try and show you how cool they are by nonchalantly impressing upon you how unflappable and unimpressed they are with Vietnam and the culture here. What they don’t realise is that their over-the-top apathy actually swings their whole attempt on its head and makes it clear how scared and insecure they actually are inside.
They try and impress others with this aloof attitude and throw names around and try and compare the standard of living in the States with that of Vietnam which is totally ridiculous. They drop comments like: “Man, there’s nothing close to a Starbucks in this communist hellhole” or “This places is so dirty man, the smell so is bad, you won’t find anyplace half as bad in the States”.
Their banter revolves around how many weird things they’ve eaten, how many local girls they’ve had and how easy it is to get away with murder in a communist country (“Man, just hand the cops 50 000 or a 100 000 Dong and they’ll turn a blind eye.”). They’re pretentious and have no sense of how grateful they should be to able to have such awesome choices in travelling and seeing the world. They don’t realise that they are actually intruding on someone else’s property and should show respect for the different way of life and actually try and embrace it. They think there’s only one way of doing things and that’s the American way. They treat the schools they work at like halfway houses between parties, feeling nothing for the children’s education I don’t think they’ve given an iota of thought as to how much the parents of these children actually sacrifice to have them learn English (average monthly salary = about $65) and maybe succeed and be able to afford a decent salary abroad some day and, instead, they abuse the high esteem and respect with which Vietnamese actually regard teachers (they’re a close second just behind parents in the respect category).
It sickens me sometimes and saddens me even more when I see how the Vietnamese consciously tolerate them, knowing that these arrogant fools hold, in a certain sense, the key to the future success of their proud nation. Buffoons. All of them. I like that word.
That’s enough for now, I’ll describe the other two groups some other time.