What about the book: “The Ugly American”. . . . . have you read it? It was 1958, smack dab in the middle of the cold war between Russia and U.S.-the novel was set in an American Southeast Asian country. We were losing our struggle against communism (fiction, folks) because of the ineptness and bungling of the US Diplomatic Corp, being too arrogant to take time to understand local culture. (Reminder: all fiction is based on some truth.) And the lead character says: *“A mysterious change seems to come over Americans when they go to a foreign land. They isolate themselves socially. They live pretentiously. They are loud and ostentatious.”
American’s were pigeon-holed! Of course, the worst of these stories made the newsfeeds. There were places in the world where Americans were not treated fairly because, we were told, foreigners thought ‘Americans were pompous, arrogant and selfish.’
When the Hirn family stepped onto the scene 50 years later, our reception was quite the opposite. The Asian people treated us like Rock Stars. Each day was a series of photo-ops and the guys held up beautifully during the pressure of performance. Parents love to credit themselves for their kids’ good behavior. And after all, Ron and I had drummed into the boys the importance of accepting everyone, regardless of race or religion or looks. But if we get credit for the good behavior, must we take blame for the bad behavior?
Ron and couldn’t have been more proud of the guys. They followed our lead to engage with the people as much as possible, to smile, reach out and be patient for the Asian Paparazzi.
And for 5 weeks, we experienced what it was like to be an American Idol. What a great feeling!
And then, we went to France . . . .
Have a great weekend!
*Lederer, William J; Burdick, Eugene (1958). The Ugly American