Saturday, September 15, 2007

Australian Hospitality

For the most part, it seems Australians enjoy the company of Americans. That's not to say we don't hear an occasional stereotypical joke, but usually it's all in good fun. However, at the APEC conference last week, Australians had a right to poke fun at Americans, and even I quietly hung my head in a bit of shame.

At this year's world leader's conference held in Sydney, President Bush made an appearance. His friendship with Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, fueled angry sentiments from Australians, and most Americans were not looking forward to Bush's visit. In Bush's opening speech he greeted "Austrians" and thanked Sydney for inviting him to "OPEC." I'm sorry, but that isn't OK.

While I was in a cab, the driver correctly assumed I was American, and proceeded to say the rainy weather will go away when Bush leaves. Regardless of my sentiments toward our country's leadership, I felt uncomfortable with those comments because a) I am in another country b) A bit more extreme, I don't know how this man feels about me being an American. I also experienced similar comments at a doctor's office. While Bush isn't well-liked by many people, I still feel the need to stand by my country.

I didn't attend the protests, after being warned by the study abroad office to stay away from the Sydney. However, I did see pictures from the rallies, and saw too many American flags being burned. I know it goes on, even in our home country, but it was unnerving to be somewhere outside of my comfort zone and see that hateful sentiment toward my country.

Other than APEC weekend, I haven't felt any uncomfort for being an American in Australia, though even if I did, there's nothing I can really do since the second I open my screams "Yank."

No comments: