Before Garnett and I left America we made a conscious decision to make sure we were humble upon arriving in New Zealand. We did not want to be the abrasive Americans who thought only America was perfect. I have to say, before I got here I didn’t even consider what Kiwi’s might think of Americans.
Before I had any real contact with a New Zealander, the first thing I noticed were the morning shows. They either admired what America did or they were making fun of us. The first morning show I watched was picking on Americans for discussing the fact American news channels were reporting that President Obama wore “mom jeans” to throw the first pitch at the Major League All Star game. It was actually funny to watch someone ridicule our “paparazzi-crazed” society.
Now, when I did begin to interact with Kiwi’s I really didn’t have to ask what they thought of Americans. They have been very open with telling me their own opinions. I hear one of two statements on a consistent basis. First, Kiwi’s like Americans but not in America. While traveling, Kiwi’s have run into Americans in Europe, Canada, and/or Australia. They love them. But when a Kiwi then goes to “the states” they mention how we are not the nicest people. I gather that is because we are constantly multi-tasking and are in “go mode.” We are in a cafe to do business, rarely to meet and just talk with someone. And if someone stops us on the street, are we not bothered because we are usually in a hurry to get somewhere?
The next opinion I hear is “Americans think they are better than everyone else”. New Zealand is a society that does not care who you are or where you came from. You put your pants on one foot at a time like everyone else. That aspect I do truly enjoy. It also makes me glad that Garnett and I decided to have a piece of Humble Pie before we arrived in New Zealand.
So far, this experience has made me think twice about not only how I represent America here in New Zealand but even when I am at home. I have been very lucky, everyone I have met has cheerfully welcomed me into his/her country and has taken the time to have a solid 5-10 minute conversation with me. I hope I can return the favor when I am in the U.S as well.
Proud to be an American.