I Know My Country Is Beautiful

Let me start off by saying that this is an opinion piece and I have every right to my own opinion as do many of you. Let me also say that I love it when people travel and how study abroad programs help promote a more worldly point of view. With that being said, I find it ridiculous when people claim to be a part of a certain culture or that they’ve “moved” to that country for that short period of time.

There are so many complications behind the beauty of tourist spots. There was disease, war, famine, poverty and death before it could become the vacation spot that it is now. There were people that were robbed of their native history during imperialistic times; be it scripture, science, artifacts, jewelry or native language - it’s all gone or only in parts that your tour guide won’t mention. In fact that is still happening around the areas that you so joyously take pictures around. There’s the homeless woman that became abandoned by her family because of poor health care, or the empty corner store that was closed up because the economy was worsened as corporations took over to make Americans feel at home. There are people being stepped on from their government that cannot wait for someone new to come lead them to the right direction. There are broken families as their members chose to leave the country and become separated from the beauty in order to have a better life that you so badly want to move away from.

                                                                                                                                         The Padaung Karen in Thailand  

                                                                                                                                             PC: Wonderlist.com

When you say you are “basically [insert nationality here]” because you ate a certain food or partook of a certain tradition, you are ignoring the foundation behind those foods and traditions that make the culture. You are ignoring the surroundings behind your Instagram worthy pictures. You can’t crop out the bad parts of a country and culture and still try to claim it as your home. You can’t keep telling the people that live/lived there or have heard personal stories how beautiful their home country is when you barely know half of it. You can’t keep telling them how you wish you could live there longer when you don’t know under what circumstance they are living in.

It’s like reading the synopsis of a book and talking about how much you loved each chapter. So before you change your Facebook "living in" to a certain country, or tweet about how much of that nationality you are because you went to a certain bar for that week or semester, think about what it really means to be of that nationality. Think about how much it would mean to the people if you not only talked about the beauty that surrounds them, but the hardships that they have to face every day. Visiting a country is like watching a movie before you’ve read the book; there’s so much more that’s left out, and you’ll never understand until you’ve read it all.