How Others Perceive the United States

Stacy Swords
Christchurch, New Zealand:

What do you think about the 24-hour news networks here?
Really, I would have no preference of one American news channel over another as we have no 24/7 dedicated American news channels—or even a New Zealand one—so most overseas news from CNN, FOX, etc. is shown via our news when its on, or from the Internet. Generally we know of big events overseas within the hour, an example being the Twin Towers. At the time it was about 2 a.m. here but we knew about it almost as it was happening (i.e. while planes were still in American airspace).

What’s your country’s news network like?
As we have no dedicated news channels, our two news channels only show news for an hour at 6 p.m. and 30 minutes at 10 p.m., along with maybe five minutes updates throughout the day, to me it’s good. Our news is about a 50/50 mix of local news, and then they have overseas news which comes from a mix of the bigger stations over your way, CNN, FOX, etc. for long running events we have reporters from here in other countries.

Rianna Trujillo
Thompson Falls, Mont., taught English for a year in Japan:

What do you think about the 24-hour news networks here?
They disgust me. I can’t watch them. The sensationalizing of journalism and emphasis on entertainment rather than objectivity and context, added to the wastefulness of airtime really bothers me. They have so much time to report news, but they only repeat the same questionably relevant or reliable information ad nauseum. They ask guests to come onto the show and bicker, and then cut off discussion before either idea comes to fruition without further discussion or exploration of the facts behind the ideas presented.

As someone with a parent with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder who spends all day with the TV on, I really don’t appreciate how often scare tactics are used to gain ratings.

What did you miss most about Montana?
Wheat bread. People saying “bless you” when you sneeze. The campus, which was my second home. My home in Thompson Falls. My student and family lifestyles (I was living alone and working for the city).

What’s the most positive perception of America in Japan?
Americans are worldly, rich, living convenient, comfortable and desirable lifestyles; very free and glamorous. Also that America is a powerful country. The scars of Japan’s loss in WWII lingers, I think. Although things are changing, there is a subtle sort of subordinate affection for America underneath the surface, though it is mixed with the desire to break free and escape America’s shadow. We are very big in their cultural consciousness.

Stephen King-Evans
Nantwich, England

What do you think about the 24-hour news networks here?
It’s very energetic and vibrant. Sometimes it seems a little too enthusiastic, since it’s more reserved in England. But I like that there’s a lot of sports on too.

What’s the most positive perception of the U.S.?
An economic superpower, there’s lots of manufacturing and technological development.

Jonathan Fritzen
Itajai, Santa Catarina, Brazil, was an exchange student in Iowa:

What do you think about the 24-hour news networks here?
It is amazing, I know other European countries have networks like the U.S., but America’s networks show how developed the country is, especially in the realm of journalism. It’s also a reflection of people’s interest levels and available time, if people didn’t have time to watch TV the channels wouldn’t exist. That doesn’t happen in third world countries or here in South America.

What’s the most positive perception of the U.S.?
The most positive is the way people live there, maybe because of the hundreds of movies we watch every year. Things seems to be so easy: good neighborhood, good schools, college for everyone and nice jobs, a cool wife, kids and a huge dog, they show us that life is perfect in the American people welcomed me very warmly, I made good friends and my host family still wants me to come back!

Jimmy Gajewski
Detroit, Mich., has taught English in China, Japan, and Mongolia; and is currently teaching in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates:

What perceptions have you heard about the U.S. while in Dubai?
Mixed. It really seems to depend on the individual and their own personal experiences. Some love the U.S., some hate it. I have students that are only 12 years old and think America is the devil. They get it from their parents, just like kids anywhere else.

How does your generation differ from your parents’ generation in terms of news and technology?
I’ve never had a newspaper subscription and probably never will. My parents are the opposite, though I’ve noticed that they’ve been getting more of their news from the internet lately as well (probably because it’s so hard to get a newspaper in Detroit these days).

What do you miss most about home?
That’s easy: cycling, snowboarding and the outdoors.

Best thing about the U.S.?
You can be your own man. Nobody gives a damn what you do or how you spend your time (unless you’re in the public eye). In both China and here in the UAE, I feel as though I’m always being watched. Not by the authorities, but just by your average Joe. For example, if I go out for a run near my place, all eyes will be upon me and my legs. “He’s showing skin? Oh my gosh! And what is he running from in the first place?” The city I lived in China wasn’t much better. Another good thing is American pop culture. For better or worse, this “soft power” does a lot more than Obama or Hillary (Clinton) do to influence foreign perceptions of the US. Overall, it’s a good thing. It’s hard to find the same level of creativity in most other countries.

Brittany Griggs-Coall
Melbourne, Australia, came to the U.S. to work in Florida on the Disney College Program:

What do you miss most about your home?
I miss my car and the freedom it provides me. I also miss the food, the meat in America physically made me sick sometimes. I miss my dog because he can’t talk to me on the computer or phone. I miss my mum, but not that much because I speak to her almost every night on Skype, so I am still able to see and talk to her

What’s the most negative perception of the U.S.? Of your country?
That everything is expensive here, that’s what I was expecting when I got to America and it’s not realistic at all. We also think America’s icon is Paris Hilton—just like others assume Australia’s icon is Steve Irwin—we assume Americans are very superficial, and that’s also not realistic.

Romina Medina
Arequipa, Peru, came to the U.S. to work in Florida on the Disney College Program:

What were your perceptions of the U.S. before you moved here?
My perceptions were favorable, I considered the U.S. as a country that was neat, clean and possessed a very interesting cultural diversity. I also considered it a place where I could develop my skills and open my mind.

What’s your country’s news network like?
In Peru, people get their news primarily from newspapers. People like to read newspapers and also watch the news on television, especially in the mornings. In Peru there is only one exclusive news channel.

Helay Rahimi
Kabul, Afghanistan, graduated from UM last year:

How does your generation differ from your parents’ generation?
My parents’ generation had been enriched with peace, and a proper and advanced educational system. The current generation has been raised up throughout the continuous war. I admire the young generation’s passion and determination by staying on top of all aspects of life and hoping for a bright future.

What do you miss most about your home?
A constant peace and delicious food.

What’s the most negative perception of the U.S.? Of your country?
I have been in the U.S. for a long time, and I don’t have a negative perception. Rather, I’ve enjoyed my stay. The war needs to be finished so everyone can live in peace. I feel bad for both sides’ innocent causalities. As far as Afghanistan, there’s no doubt there’s a long way to go to build it up but I’ll love it in any condition.