The first time I took an international trip (other than Canada), it was 2004.
Remember 2004? America was in a war it didn’t want to be in, we felt misled by the government, and unsafe in our home. Only 3 years after the devastating 9/11 attacks, the country was still hurting.
When I was getting ready to pack my bags for two months abroad, I was asked this question frequently,
“Are you going to tell people you’re Canadian?”
Or they would say, “You should put a Canadian flag on your backpack so they don’t know you’re American.”or “You know, people hate Americans”.
I decided not to hide my nationality and I had zero problems abroad. Most people would guess I was Canadian or American by the accent alone. The “where are you from?” question is a common one wherever you are traveling. And in 2004 I was met with interest and curiosity about where I lived. Not hate or anger toward America or American politics. I felt welcomed as a person, not as a singular representative of every action or injustice that my country has ever done.
Fast forward to 2016.
I think much of our country is still reeling from the results of this week’s election. I personally am still in shock and utter disbelief. What does the election of Donald Trump say about the American people? How far off track have we gone? There is obviously a deep, deep problem, that cannot be solved with one person taking office. I have to keep reminding myself that I live in a VERY liberal bubble. I feel that I may be blind or ignorant to the challenges that others around our country are facing. It’s easy for me to assume that everyone who voted for Trump is a racist, sexist, idiot. But I also can’t believe that to be true. Otherwise, what hope is left? No, I think Trump is a part of a much larger ball of issues and our country is hurting.
The question that comes to our minds now, is what will it be like traveling as an American with Donald Trump as president? Will this warrant the Canadian flag approach? Time will tell, and we will be keeping a watchful eye.
Have you ever been afraid to tell people you were American when traveling abroad?