Friday, October 7, 2011

Growing Moss

No, not literally growing moss but I certainly feel like this blog has moss growing around the edges.

The little part-time job has expanded to be not-so-part-time due to the fact that a co-worker had to take an emergency leave. I hope she's back soon because I need some time to spend in my sewing room. The Farmer's recent health emergency has also taken it's toll on both of us. The thing about being older is that it takes longer to bounce back!

Truck sitting so long it has plants growing in the truck bed.

There's a young woman at work who is an immigrant, only in this country 4 years. She's happy that we're very curious about the cultural differences and are asking questions about the hardest part of her adjustment. We shower with questions dailly and I'm glad that she realizes we're not nosy but truly want to understand her culture and what makes her tick.

Recently I asked her, "What is the number one thing that stands out for you about Americans?"

I wonder about this because you never know how you come across to people, either as a person or as a culture in general. Americans sometimes get the rap of being spoiled, materialistic, lazy and lots of other negatives. I know her well enough to know that she would respond honestly to the question. If we're spoiled, she'd say it!

She did not hesitate with responding, "Americans are strong!"

Really? That's not what I was expecting. Unfortunately, customers came in and we were busy so I couldn't ask her to elaborate. She left early and I've been left to ponder her answer for a few days.

What would strong look like in her context? I was reminded of the experiences of a friend of mine who has been traveling and working overseas for a couple of years. She is stymied by the other culture's inability to take action. They sit around and discuss everything until they cover every possible angle and contingency. It takes FOREVER to do anything. My friend said the number one thing she misses in these siutations is the American MacGuyverism, the willingness to dive and and get started. She tries to impress on these people that you need to spend time thinking and discussing, formulating a plan and then DIVE IN. The original plan can be adjusted as you go along but you must get started!

I think what my co-worker is referring to is American self-reliancy, kind of the pioneer spirit. She comes from a culture that is heavily family-based and rarely do they make a move without checking everything with their family. I'm not talking about immediate family, spouse and children, I'm saying they do not make a move without parental approval, even if they're 40 years old.

What do you think might make Americans seem strong through the eyes of another culture?

It's something interesting to think about.


Terri said...

It is very interesting - I'll have to think on it some first. Meanwhile. I love the picture of the truck. Reminds me of me... I should get going!
Thanks for the contemplation. I'll get back to you.

Kat said...

Strong, or just well-fortressed? We build all these fences, we hardly know our neighbors, we put thick walls around our private lives. Maybe we're not really strong, but we're all mock-ups of the Wizard of Oz?

Marilyn in Norfolk said...

Gosh. Good question. I think of Americans as on the lazy and materialistic side. Not my parents generation and maybe even not so much mine but certainly the ones who are in their 20s now that I work with. It seems to me the country has suffered a sad decline since... oh maybe the 70's. I find it hard to believe that someone from another country would find us strong. I'm curious if she means past generations. I can't wait to hear what her further thoughts on the topic are. And that does sound really negative about a country that I love! Sorry for the negativity.

TnTConnect said...

Hmmm, not sure what is in her mind. Especially since you aren't sure if she meant physically, mentally or emotionally. Not sure I am any of those, but I will be waiting for your follow-up post! :)

Vee said...

Yes, it is interesting to think about. I certainly hope that you'll have the opportunity to continue that conversation. Strong is not an adjective I would give us right now, but perhaps I should. We've endured for nearly three years and THAT has been a very long time indeed.

Harriet said...

A very thought provoking question. I think it's a combination of attributes. The willingness to give a hand, tackle what needs to be done and get it done, go down for the count, get up, dust off your hands and keep on keeping on. I look forward to reading her answer to strong.

Tess said...

I wonder if "spirited" might be a more appropriate word.

Pamela said...

Just wondering how you are doing . . . miss your posts! Hope all is well!