Are you afraid of saying estadounidense?

I had a Canadian recently tell me that “respectable Americans don’t say they’re American while traveling abroad.”  That only “the loud and obnoxious ones are proudly announcing that they are American.”  First off, I was a little shocked to hear this come from a Canadian, but I guess it must make them a little smug knowing that there are Americans out there traveling with maple leaf flags sewn onto their backpacks.  But seriously, to those Americans traveling this way, what is the thought process?  Are you worried that people hate you?  Or do you just want to avoid difficult conversations?  This same Canadian told me bluntly, “all Bolivians hate people from the USA.”  Strong, fear-mongering words…

Here are a few reasons why you should definitely say that you are estadounidense while traveling in Latin America:

  • Contrary to what your soccer-hating friends might tell you, you’re from a nation that can be proud of it’s national soccer team!  And if you’re lucky enough to be traveling during the World Cup, you get to participate in one of the greatest multi-national parties there is.  Poor Canadians have only ever been to the World Cup once (1986)… they had three loses and were dumped pretty unceremoniously from the competition.
  • A lot of Latin Americans would say yes to one of the following statements: I have been to the United States, I have a family member who lives in the United States, or I would definitely love to visit the United States.  Common ground is surprisingly easy when you mention where you are from.  Just the other day, someone told my that they loved the name of our country.  Personally, I think Ecuador is a much better one.
  • All Bolivians do not hate Americans… but some of them might be pretty upset about some choices that our federal government has made.  And that is likely true in all parts of Latin America.  One of the greatest things about traveling is that it broadens your perspective.  Mentioning that you are from the United States gives you an opportunity to learn and maybe bring some of that knowledge back to your own country.  The good news is that most everyone can tell the difference between a country’s government, and the citizens of that country.
  • Lying about your nationality is kind of cowardly…

2 thoughts on “Are you afraid of saying estadounidense?

  1. Craig, not sure that went through…briefly, I totally agree with you…am glad you are proud to say you are from the US, you and Sheena are great ambassadors! I felt as a PCV that one of the greatest gifts we had to give was that living with Chileans they were able to see us as “regular” people with lives not so different from their own. In the ’60s the only “contact” most South American had with the US were images in the movies, not a very accurate depiction of the average American.

    • We definitely get a lot of USA stereotypes coming from Hollywood still, but surprisingly, this is almost exclusively coming from other travelers… Lots of other travelers expanding their world view as well ;)

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