Since coming to Thailand, a common question I’ve received from family and friends is, ‘What do the people there think of America?’ I could definitely throw out some guesses based on conversations I’ve had with the people here, but I thought a more effective answer would come from the people themselves. So I set out on a mission to collect some responses to the question, ‘What do you think of America and Americans?’ from various people, Thais and others. I recorded their responses, and what you see here are direct quotes or summaries in the case that I had to have a friend translate for me. I’ve corrected some small grammar mistakes but have attempted to keep the responses as close to the originals as possible.
The initial purpose of this post was to satisfy the curiosity of those in the US, but as I’ve been keeping an eye on the news and watching the deteriorating situation surrounding the presidential election, the growing refugee crisis, and the numerous other world issues, I realized that learning about how people around the world feel about each other is one way to create more compassion and understanding between different cultures and to relieve some of the fear and uncertainty that has been spreading so rapidly. Because of that, I hope this blog post will help expand your understanding of other cultures, as well as help alter any inaccurate assumptions you have been making about how people around the world feel about America and its people.
Tong, Thai intern and friend:
America has a multicultural society. The best thing I know about America is freedom of speech, freedom of moving, and freedom of living. Americans make eye contact. They are brave to express the ideas they are thinking and brave to express both good and bad ideas.
Boo, Thai intern:
Everything is advanced with transportation and technology.
Khem, Thai intern:
I think of technology.
Fah, Thai intern and friend:
People in America have freedom. Freedom is something very important in America. American people are easy going and extroverted.
Benz, Thai intern and friend:
I think of lots of cosmetics when I think of America. Americans are very kind and friendly. They have freedom to think. I always get the thought when we are talking with the American people that they express their ideas about the society. And Americans have more dreams than Thais.
May, Thai intern:
There are good and bad people. My friend told me America is good.
Moo waan, Thai intern:
I like black guys who sing hip hop songs. I like movie films and music of America. I like rap and the Backstreet Boys.
Oil, Thai intern:
I think of cosmetics and cheap make-up. I’m not familiar with American people, but I think some Americans are promiscuous.
Nui, Thai intern:
The country is systematic with big cities like New York and Los Angeles. They have lots of gambling and casinos.
Man, Thai intern and friend:
I think American people are friendly and easy to get to know. I have been a Thai buddy for the USAC program at CMU. That’s a very good program that lets me make friends with American people, and I always keep in touch with them. Most are very nice and always help me too much. They’re very cute. Talking about USA, it’s a big country, and also the dream land of many Thai people. Some want to study or work there. But in my opinion, American society is hard to live in. I’m also afraid of terrorists. I choose to live in Thailand and have American friends. That’s a better choice for me.
Dream, Thai barista at nearby coffee shop:
Americans are nice and friendly.
Several Mattayom 5 students:
The men in America are very handsome, and they have good food in America.
Kru Oh, Thai English teacher:
America is the freedom land! It’s well-known. It has various geographic lands and many states. It’s the land with two sides, positive and negative. It’s positive on economics, and it’s advanced. It’s negative because it’s dangerous to survive in, especially in New York. The people are friendly, and the way of life is easy and informal. The American language is not like British. Some words are easier to understand. Most Americans work hard to earn money by themselves, like the teenagers. The self-confidence is high, but some have less. Some are selfish, like the old people. Some Americans are impolite.
Kru Ae, Thai English teacher:
America is a very serious country. Many people in America don’t like people in Thailand. They’re very serious about their work.
Jaruwan, Thai veterinary professor at CMU:
America is the high developing and high technology country. It’s a wonderful country. I felt safe in the US. They have the security. America is prosperous and their development, everything is high tech. Americans are nice people. My PhD advisor is American. She is kind and nice to me. She responds to my mail so quick and likes to help me. I think Americans are on time. Very, very on time. Haha. And responsible. They have ideas. I think your country and people teach you how to think and how to be responsive. It’s not that way in Thailand. I love the country.
Xia, Chinese intern and friend:
Americans love freedom and are independent.
Martin, British friend:
Americans come across as very knowledgeable with a strong ability for public speaking which seems to come quite naturally.
Toni, American friend:
I’m glad I’m not there right now. I’m quite disappointed in the support that is being shown for Trump and in the groundswell of hatred and fear.
Wes, American English teacher:
I think so highly of America’s natural beauty. I’ve traveled around the world, and I love America’s wilderness and nature because I grew up there and I know about it. We’ve led the world in the idea of national parks and stuff, which is a great step. As far as American government and all that, I feel like we have the right idea—democracy is a great idea—but it’s not functioning, so it doesn’t matter that it’s a great idea. I feel like basically America is a proxy, it’s like a fake government and they’re doing the bidding of the world’s richest people. They’re not working for the citizens. They’re working for the super-rich internationally. I couldn’t think any less about American government. The American people, I understand them because I’m American, and I think I like the American people because it’s basically the whole world. So many people from all over the world have immigrated to America, so it’s a cool group of people because it represents the whole world, but at the same time once they’ve been in America for a while they’re American. I enjoy the diversity of people in America. I feel like generally people in America are friendly and helpful and nice. I generally have a good opinion of American people.