Tips for Yanks Travelling Abroad

Locked
Ralph
Dittersdorf Specialist & CMG NY Host
Posts: 20996
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 6:54 am
Location: Paradise on Earth, New York, NY

Tips for Yanks Travelling Abroad

Post by Ralph » Wed May 10, 2006 12:59 pm

CNN.com
Powered by


Behavior guide targets 'the ugly American'

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- Alarmed by the relentless rise of anti-Americanism around the world, a business-backed group is trying to change the behavior that spawned an enduring stereotype of Americans abroad -- loud, arrogant, ill-dressed, ill-mannered and lacking respect for other cultures.

For many years, much of the rest of the world distinguished between the United States and the American people. Americans tended to get better ratings than their country and its policies. But recent surveys show that favorable perceptions of Americans have been shrinking while views on the world's only superpower grow increasingly hostile.

Enter Business for Diplomatic Action Inc. (BDA), a non-profit organization founded by advertising executive Keith Reinhard after a worldwide survey of attitudes towards Americans convinced him that "our collective personality is one of the root causes of anti-Americanism."

"We are seen as loud, arrogant and completely self-absorbed," said Reinhard, chairman emeritus of the advertising agency DDB Worldwide. "People see in us the ultimate arrogance -- assuming that everybody wants to be like us."
Tips for travelers

This month, San Francisco-based BDA -- whose board includes executives from Exxon and McDonald's -- began distributing a "World Citizen's Guide" to corporate travelers. Its 16 points are a mirror image of the behavioral patterns that earned Americans a boorish reputation in the first place. Here's a sampler from the guide.

* Think as big as you like but talk and act smaller. In many countries, any form of boasting is considered rude. Talking about wealth, power or status -- corporate or personal -- can create resentment.

* Speak lower and slower. In conversation, match your voice level and tonality to the environment and other people. A loud voice is often perceived as bragging. A fast talker can be seen as aggressive and threatening

* Dress up. You can always dress down. In some countries, casual dress is a sign of disrespect. Check out what is expected and when in doubt, err on the side of the more formal and less casual attire. You can remove a jacket and tie if you are overdressed. But you can't make up for being too casual.

* Recognize that the music you enjoy may be offensive to many in the countries you visit. Talking about works by composers such as Elliott Carter and John Cage will often be viewed as smug expressions of cultural pseudo-superiority.

* Listen at least as much as you talk. By all means, talk about America and your life in the country. But also ask people you're visiting about themselves and their way of life. Listen, and show your interest in how they compare their experiences to yours.

Not good at listening

"We Americans just don't listen," said BDA's executive director Cari Eggspuehler. "Listening is not an American trait." Eggspuehler traveled the world when she worked for the U.S. Department of State before joining BDA.

More than 400 companies have expressed interest in the World Citizens Guide. Ten thousand copies have already been distributed and 30,000 more are now being printed under sponsorship from the National Business Travelers Association which works with BDA to push the initiative.

A proposal to the State Department to issue the guide along with every new or renewed U.S. passport is still under review, according to Eggspuehler.

The new guide for corporate executives follows similar but more detailed tips for U.S. students traveling abroad. Compiled by BDA and students at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, that guide was sponsored by PepsiCo and handed out to more than 200,000 students.

An estimated 60 million Americans travel abroad each year and BDA's Reinhard sees all of them as potential ambassadors who might win the hearts and minds of their host countries, no matter how much people there might hate U.S. policies.

When word of the new guide first filtered onto Internet discussion groups, some participants were quick to point out that American travelers have no monopoly on boorish behavior.
Selling America

BDA's campaign follows several unsuccessful attempts by the government to "sell America," including a branding effort led by a high-powered advertising executive, Charlotte Beers. Under her leadership, the State Department's Office for Public Diplomacy produced a series of videos about Muslims thriving in the United States.

They were meant to show that the Muslim world had a mistaken image of the United States, but several Arab governments refused to air the videos, branding them propaganda.

Before Beers resigned in frustration, two years after taking the job, she told a congressional committee: "The gap between who we are and how we wish to be seen, and how we are in fact seen, is frighteningly wide."

This is not a new phenomenon. The term "Ugly American" became part of the popular language with a best-selling 1958 novel of that title. It criticized the blundering behavior of Americans in Southeast Asia and prompted then-President Dwight Eisenhower to reform U.S. aid programs in the region.

Beers resigned unexpectedly two weeks before the United States went to war on Iraq -- an act which further tarnished America's image in large parts of the world -- and was replaced by Karen Hughes, a close confidante of President George W. Bush. She has visited several Muslim countries and won largely negative reviews at home and abroad.

The Office of Management and Budget, part of the White House, recently rated the public diplomacy program as "not performing."

"There is no broad overarching U.S. government public diplomacy strategy," the OMB said. "Because of this lack of a plan, programs such as this one may not be the most effective both in the long and the short term."
Image

"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."

Albert Einstein

jbuck919
Military Band Specialist
Posts: 26733
Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2004 10:15 pm
Location: Stony Creek, New York

Re: Tips for Yanks Travelling Abroad

Post by jbuck919 » Wed May 10, 2006 1:28 pm

Ralph wrote:CNN.com


* Recognize that the music you enjoy may be offensive to many in the countries you visit. Talking about works by composers such as Elliott Carter and John Cage will often be viewed as smug expressions of cultural pseudo-superiority.
I think we've found one of Ralph's "let's find out if they really read my posts" moments. What gives it away is that it contains the wrong objection: The Germans would never mention John Cage and Elliott Carter in the same breath.

Since I don't travel abroad but merely live here, of course, none of this applies to me.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

Ralph
Dittersdorf Specialist & CMG NY Host
Posts: 20996
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 6:54 am
Location: Paradise on Earth, New York, NY

Re: Tips for Yanks Travelling Abroad

Post by Ralph » Wed May 10, 2006 1:32 pm

jbuck919 wrote:
Ralph wrote:CNN.com


* Recognize that the music you enjoy may be offensive to many in the countries you visit. Talking about works by composers such as Elliott Carter and John Cage will often be viewed as smug expressions of cultural pseudo-superiority.
I think we've found one of Ralph's "let's find out if they really read my posts" moments. What gives it away is that it contains the wrong objection: The Germans would never mention John Cage and Elliott Carter in the same breath.

Since I don't travel abroad but merely live here, of course, none of this applies to me.
*****

Why do I have to endure these calumnies? I just copy and paste.
Image

"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."

Albert Einstein

Corlyss_D
Site Administrator
Posts: 27663
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 2:25 am
Location: The Great State of Utah
Contact:

Re: Tips for Yanks Travelling Abroad

Post by Corlyss_D » Wed May 10, 2006 1:51 pm

jbuck919 wrote: Since I don't travel abroad but merely live here, of course, none of this applies to me.
Since Americans have the money, none of it applies to Americans.
Corlyss
Contessa d'EM, a carbon-based life form

Ralph
Dittersdorf Specialist & CMG NY Host
Posts: 20996
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 6:54 am
Location: Paradise on Earth, New York, NY

Re: Tips for Yanks Travelling Abroad

Post by Ralph » Wed May 10, 2006 9:29 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:
jbuck919 wrote: Since I don't travel abroad but merely live here, of course, none of this applies to me.
Since Americans have the money, none of it applies to Americans.
*****

Right!
Image

"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."

Albert Einstein

jack stowaway
Posts: 922
Joined: Tue Feb 07, 2006 9:17 pm

Post by jack stowaway » Thu May 11, 2006 7:28 pm

Alarmed by the relentless rise of anti-Americanism around the world, a business-backed group is trying to change the behavior that spawned an enduring stereotype of Americans abroad -- loud, arrogant, ill-dressed, ill-mannered and lacking respect for other cultures.

And that all's it is of course, a mean, ignorant steretype springing from dyed-in-the-bone Anti-Americanism.

Contrary to the stereotype, I have found Americans abroad to be unfailingly gracious in their appreciation of host cultures.

In fact, most travellers, wherever they are from, are appreciative of the host culture, if only for reasons of expediency.

And as a sidebar, on my frequent visits to the US I have been struck by the politeness and generosity with which I have been received.

Corlyss_D
Site Administrator
Posts: 27663
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 2:25 am
Location: The Great State of Utah
Contact:

Post by Corlyss_D » Thu May 11, 2006 7:38 pm

I refreshed my miserable German before I traveled to Munich 2 of the 3 trips. My pension didn't have a word of English, and I managed okay. In most of the places I had to actually say something there was someone who spoke English and most were quite patient about it. The only place I really missed fluency with the language was in the museum exhibit tracing Bavarians roots back to the vagabond Celts: I would have liked to have read the display cards.

When I lived in Italy, I went to the DoDDSS schools like where John teaches, and we had Italian lessons every day from the 1st to the 3rd grade. I don't know if they still do that, but it made a lot of sense to do so.

And the LDS Mission Training Center developed a system for teaching languages in 3 months that the US Army adopted.

I think it's frankly absurd for foreigners to expect tourists to speak the languages of the nations they visit. And given the lengths to which most nations cultivate tourism and supply guides who speak the tourists' languages, I think this complaint is just about 50 years out of date.
Corlyss
Contessa d'EM, a carbon-based life form

Locked

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests