Learning a language is not a skill everyone has. While taking spanish in school I loved it. But about a fourth of the class, try as they might, couldn't get past Buenos dias, tardes or noches. They wanted to so bad, they spent extra time during study halls, but couldn't.
While in the service I tried to learn as much of each country's language as I could. This included more than ordering a drink, a meal and getting my face slapped (usually me UNINTENTIONALLY saying something wrong, other times not so
). I had a roomate in West Germany, on the economy, that couldn't get german down to save his life. His German girlfriend who later became his wife tried to help him but it was useless. He tried High German and local dialect. Granted I have run into the 'ugly american' while overseas and have had a few words with them but it was a brick wall. One example was Oktoberfest in Munich. There was a bunch of us from different countries having a great time and most of us couldn't understand each other, and didn't care. An american couple was sitting behind us and a buddy of mine asked the man for a light. The guy said sure and lit his cigarette. My buddy thanked him and then asked were in the states they were from and the lady answered loud and slow "WE ARE FROM THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!" My buddy said "No s---". Now where are you from in the states?" The man apologized and looked strickened. He spoke a little german and had a language dictionary with him. Yeah, there are folks that think the whole world is the USA and can't think any other way.
But when I sat down with who ever I'm sharing a table with or a seat and we get to talking The most I got was, "... you aren't like what we were taught. I can speak to you and you listen." Just one example. I was also stopped after the shuttle Columbia launched for the first time. We were in the middle of terrorist bombings and activities by the Red Army Faction and other groups when this happened. I had a pit in my gut and was searching for options when I was hugged and clapped on the back by German citizens and told congratulations USA is on top again. When ever I got out of the tourist areas I get to really see where I am.
I also appreciate this country we have more because we are different, THANKFULLY, than the rest of the world. We have our faults yes. But they are ours and we will work them out OURSELVES. We were not, that I remember, founded on the nobility (state) taking care of my needs, but it is up to me to succeed or fail with no one to blame but me. We all have obstacles (not challenges) in our way that need to be overcome. They are of various types and sizes and not easy. But that is what makes our progress that we earned all the sweeter and more appreciated. This also sets an example for the future. If I'm considered narrow minded, so be it. I believe a person should be looked at by what they are inside and not what others want to accuse me of looking at.
Yeah the French are the most stuck up. But that's another story.