Expat Dribble

Andrea Avery Jackley: An expat with lots of dribble to write about.

6.11.09

Being an American abroad can be exhausting. There are always people, upon hearing your accent and determining you’re not Canadian (perhaps from the lack of flag paraphernalia), who are eager for you to listen to their opinions and insist you counter them – only so that they can tell you how wrong you are. If, by some off chance, you agree with one of their ideas the result is usually an amusing look of flabbergast and some hidden disappointment for their loss of anticipated banter. 

This isn’t to mention my Canadian friend, who is tireless in his criticism of America, or as I like to refer to it as: his “Big Brother” syndrome; or “Red-Headed Stepchild” complex; or “I’m Insecure Because I Have Less ‘Junk in the Trunk'” mindset… you get the picture. Never is there a conversation with my Canadian friend that isn’t prefaced with: “No offense, but…”

Between lengthy disputes about America’s pro-democratic agenda, lacking public school system, or, most frequently, about how to properly pronounce the word “been” (‘bin’ of course, not ‘bean’ – which I repeat, is a legume one EATS, not a past participle),  his incessant yammering is enough to put me to sleep for a week. Which is exactly the same feeling I had when I visited Toronto… funny. 

At any rate, back to the issue at hand: I had an enlightening discussion with my Korean doctor neighbor (family name Lim) the other night. It turns out Lim is a history buff on top of his dermatology expertise; and it really was a fascinating hour we spent together. He told me all about how the Koreans and the Japanese are of the same clan, while the Chinese are a different tribe who migrated along a separate path “way back when”.

He also described the Turks and their parting with the Anglo-Saxons who ended up inhabiting Germany. This came complete with hand-drawn maps in my scribble notebook, emphasized with frequent circling and CAPITAL letters. Wonderful. 

The talk ended up with our musing about America’s domination of world politic and the emerging Chinese; a topic well-documented by modern media. I breached the conversation with an observation about how the Chinese have publicly deceived (or tried deceive) the world several times, in recent memory – from their GDP and national spending to the Beijing Olympics and the notorious gymnast scandal; the gold medalists who were supposedly “of age”. Surprisingly, Lim nodded and said: “Lying is their culture.”

He was adamant in his opinion that, should the Chinese surpass the U.S.A. in economic and political influence in the future, it would be a very bad thing for the world. In short, Lim contends that the Chinese culture revolves around embellishment, denial and, unfortunately at times, downright lies. While I am not putting forth my own specific opinions, this is an idea one can’t help but find compelling. It’s aboot integrity.

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