Travel To Grow

Understanding The World Through Travel

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Jan '10

You represent your country when you travel

When you travel to a country that doesn’t have many foreigners you should keep in mind that you are representing your country to these people.

People can be very quick to form links in their minds. When you go some places you may be the first foreigner the people have ever seen. They won’t be able to help but judge the personalities of all foreigners by the way you act. In places where there are many cultures it’s easy to know that you cannot judge a person based on where they are from as each individual is unique, but in a place where everyone is the same, any outsider will form impressions in the minds of the locals for all people who look like them. It’s not unreasonable to assume that if you act rude they will think all foreigners are rude and if you’re friendly they will think all foreigners are friendly.

When my friend Matt was in a small African village, he made sure to smile and wave at all the people he saw. He wanted to ensure that the people would form good impressions of white people, since he was most likely one of the first they had ever seen.

In places with slightly more foreigners you may instead form an impression in the people’s minds based on your country. They may have met a pleasant person from Australia, but may then decide all Canadians are rude if you act rude. In this case rather than having them judge all foreigners they are just judging people from your country. This is quite apparent when you travel and people ask you where you are from. When I tell people I am from Canada sometimes I see a quick smile and they tell me they like Canadian people. Because they had met a nice Canadian in the past they immediately assume I am also nice even though we had just been introduced to each other.

When I see foreigners act in arrogant or rude ways I get quite upset with them, because I know any foreigners that interact with these people afterwards will already have preconceived judgments against them by default. Have fun when you travel but be really friendly to the locals.

Depending on where you are in the world many foreigners may not have come before you, but chances are some will come after you, make sure the initial opinions the locals have of them are good ones. Keep in mind you are representing foreigners everywhere.

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