Saturday, May 27, 2006

Americans Part 1: The Young Yanks

*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.


loesil said...

Sien...dit is dié tipe ding wat punte vir die Blog-oscar sal beteken!

Maar dit is baie sad. Dit is seker interessant om die nuwe samelewing se probleme en sosiale kwessies so eerstehands te ervaar. Maar soos Gavin Hood (dit was blatante name-dropping) nou die dag aan my gese het: mense se probleme is meer universeel as wat ons dink. Veral die menslike emosionele ervaring is reg oor die wêreld soortgelyk. Wat ek dan nou eintlik wil vra: Raak jy kwaad vir die Amerikaners oor dit polities korrek is, of is dit oor jy meegevoel (mee=mede) met jou nuwe landgenote het?

henno said...

Ja, dit is nogals interresant om dit so eerstehands te ervaar. Die ding is, soos ek gese het, dis moelik om dit te beskryf sonder om verskrikkelik te veralgemeen, maar die feit bly staan dat hierdie ouens bestaan en dat dit nogals 'n stereotipeering is wat ietwats waar is. Op 'n manier is dit 'n meegevoel vat ek vir die Vietnamese het, maar die verskillende tipes Amerikaners wat hier werk kan ook as 'n "microcosm" van hulle buitelandse beleid gesien word (ek dink amper soos wat Gavin Hood bedoel). Of dalk moet ek nie so vinnig op my perdjie spring nie en probeer om meer objektief (haha) na die saak te kyk. Time will tell.

Anonymous said...

Henno dankie dat jy nog tyd maak oor 'n naweek om jou idees met ons te deel. Ek is net so bly dat jy en Christoff nie so naief of blase is dat julle nie meer verras kan word of ander mense se andersheid nie kan waardeer nie. Ek is stokoud en probeer elke dat om elke mens vir sy andersheid te waardeer. Learn and respect and ye will reap rich rewards - not talking about money. Liefde ma

mullet said...

Wow, what a crackingly intense debate. I would have to say that Teacher Henno has hit the proverbial nail on the head with his description of the yanks. I realise it seems generalisation but having been to america and seen the yanks in their natural habitat, I would have to say that the majority think the way that handfull you met in Nam, looking down on any country but their own. Very proud to be american. Not saying they are all like that, some are really cool and open-minded. Just remember though that it is much the same all over the world, loads of people here think they are the greatest (They really aren't) and I think they are rubbish. HAHA! Bind the nations through hypocrisy!

henno said...

hear hear!

lian said...

Jip, ek stem saam...
Het op my vlug na Brussels langs 'n Kanadees gesit, and in my humble opinion - hulle is net so erg soos die Yanks. En hulle het minder om skaam oor te wees-minder Indiane dood geskiet, en kleiner aandeel in wereld poltieke gemors, so hulle is selfs meer uitgesproke oor hul illusie van "perfection". Die dude was oppad terug Kanada toe na 'n 6 weke trip deur Afrika. "amazing..bla bla bla." en toe-quote:"i couldn't believe what a big deal the South Africans on the trip made about Cape Town. Calling it a first world city-it's a disgrace, I was so unimpressed with the place I cannot describe". En dit terwyl hy weet dis waar ek gewoon het...Die bliksem, hy moet swaksiende wees om die verskil tussen Khartoum en Kaapstad te mis!

henno said...

Haha ja fokkit. Klink soos 'n tipiese voorbeeld. Hier is moer baie Kanadese in HCMC ook, maar daai's wat ek ontmoet het is êrens tussen uiterstes: Hulle dink Amerika/Kanada issie shit of hulle haat altwee!

Emmie said...

JA! Kom ons hele Waarde- en Beleidklas hou partytjie op Henno se blog.
Ek moet sê ek het nogals ook baie "sulke" Amerikaners in Taiwan ontmoet. Wat soek jy in die Ooste as jy weet dis NIE soos freakin Amerika NIE. Word 'n truck-driver, koop een van daai hos caps en dan ry jy maar op en af deur al 50+ staatjies as dit jou gelukkig maak.
maar los die asians uit, ek dink hulle is flippen kief mense (al burp hulle nogals baie...)