Tuesday, February 4, 2014

And I'm Proud To Be An American.

As I think that all Americans should be.

We come from and/ or live in wonderful country with SO. MANY. opportunities. Literally anything we want to be or do can be achieved. We have cities and small towns and more naturally beautiful places than I could ever imagine. There is so much opportunity and so much potential when living in the States.

But I have never, ever been more ashamed to be an American than I have this past week following the Superbowl. I am going to go out a limb and assume that everyone has seen the Coca-Cola America the Beautiful commercial and its subsequent backlash.

It's disgusting and repulsive to see how hateful people can be regarding this commercial. And the sheer number of hateful people. It's becoming more clear to me that I have a tendency to assume that all people are good and wouldn't do bad things, but it absolutely blows me away to think that people can be so nasty.

First of all, because I think this needs cleared up, America the Beautiful is NOT our national anthem. I can't be certain, but I'm pretty sure that anyone coming to the States and obtaining citizenship has to be able to identify the national anthem. Therefore these terrorists and Mexicans and a whole slew of other derogatory remarks are already better informed about American culture than those Americans who are hating on them.

Secondly, I'm willing to bet large sums of money that the majority of Americans ancestors are not originally from America. If an individual traces his ancestry back, I am almost certain that they will find that they have ancestors who immigrated to the States. And guess what. Those ancestors probably didn't speak English. But they still came to the States. They carved out new lives for themselves, created different opportunities. They blended their old culture with the new culture of the States.

Because that's part of what makes the States so wonderful. We are all different, but we've all taken things and learned things from each other. People are given the freedom to hold onto their old roots while creating an entirely new culture in the States.

I'm a fan of Cinco de Mayo. Am I Hispanic? No. Do I still celebrate the holiday? With a taco in each hand. And don't even try to tell me that only the Irish celebrate on St. Patricks Day. This blending of cultures is what makes the American culture unique. Americans have the opportunity to participate in some of the best aspects of so many different cultures because so many people around the world immigrated to the United States.

I love my country, I am proud to be from the States. But I wish that Americans could be more accepting of other cultures, of other countries, of people who are different than themselves. Maybe it's because I've spent the past two and a half years of my life living in abroad, but it's so embarrassing to see Americans behaving so childishly and hurtfully. And to realize that for so many people, that's the image they have of Americans.

If there is one thing that I have learned while being abroad, it's that people are fundamentally the same. Children, teenagers, adults. Across the board, regardless of language. People want to be loved, people want to be accepted. My students experience joy when finally mastering a difficult skill. The Spanish staff has experienced broken hearts in the same way that I have. The parents of my students have experienced the same elation as my parents when seeing their child walk across the stage at graduation. People experience the same emotions regardless of age, nationality, or skin color.

If there's one thing I want to my students to learn this year, it's that different is not bad. Different is different and differences are necessary in the world. We wouldn't survive if everyone was a teacher, the world wouldn't function if we were all doctors. My students love soccer, but Miss Caitlin adores baseball. Neither one is right or wrong, it's just different.

Seeing the reactions from the Coca-Cola commercial further proves to me how important it is to make sure my students understand this. Verbs can wait. Spelling can come later. But the acceptance and tolerance of individuals who are different from you? That needs addressed now. That's a lesson that learned now.


  1. love this! i had to create a blog for a class i'm taking (at AU actually!) and it inspired me to write something similar :)

  2. Well said Caitlin...well said! =)