I’ve not felt any of the hostility we’d expect from people who have strong disdain for our current president.
25 years ago when I first visited France, I recall feeling welcomed — almost admired — as an American tourist by most of the French people I encountered outside of Paris. (Paris, like many large US cities, has an entirely different culture in my experience. What big city resident cares to welcome MORE visitors, really?) The climate for Americans in France has changed, as we all know.
Nevertheless, I’ve not felt any of the hostility we’d expect from people who have strong disdain for our current president. Then again, I’m also doing all I can to blend in and not look like an American either!My husband and I are spending 5 weeks this summer in Europe, mostly France.
I try to hit the markets at least a couple times each week, if only to experience the diversity of cultures represented by the merchants, all of whom claim French citizenship.Last week, a vendor was selling fruit with aromas so delicious I couldn’t just walk by. He offered me a taste of some miniature melons.
I responded, “Oui, merci.” He detected my accent (less American and more from my Peace Corps days in the former French colony of Togo). He replied in Spanish — a guess, apparently. I asked him (in French) if he was from Spain and he said he was of Albanian origin, but adamantly added that he’s French.
He then continued to guess my nationality, now in English, “Dutch? German? English?” To the latter, I answered, “Close enough.” With a big smile, he said, “You’re American!”
I jokingly held my finger to my lip, “Shhh.” Seriously, who wants to advertise their Americaness these days?
This larger-than-life man with a jolly smile threw his hands up in the air, pointed down to me and said to all around, “She’s American!!” He then said boisterously, “Look, we like you, we still love America, we just hate your president.”
I tried my hardest to convince him, “He’s not my president.”He and others around me said, “Yes he is.
“As correct as he may be, I contemplated defending that I didn’t vote for him, I worked hard for the last two Democratic campaigns, and no — he’s not the president I chose!
As I was about to bring up the subject of Barack Obama, he said, “And that new guy, Obama, we like him.”
I responded, “Everybody here does. Now let’s just hope that Americans wake up and smell the coffee this time!”
He laughed, handed me the melons and said, “Good luck! We hope you can make it happen!”
It’s got to happen. I’ve got hope. Barack Obama is not only going to make a world of difference at home. We need to renew old friendships back here in Europe ..
NB: Kate’s “Obama” blog : http://my.barackobama.com/page/community/post/tempeazkate/gGxl7W
Well done Kate !