Snapshots from abroad: What locals ask an American when they want to know what's going on there

I have worked in Central Asia for the past decade.  On one project, I had people on my team from 30 different countries.  On the project I am working on today, I counted people from nine countries at a staff meeting one recent morning. It's fascinating. One has to tune one's ears to understand English spoken with so many accents to avoid loss of intent in the discussion. But it's worth doing because the perspectives are fascinating. 

Without fail, people on my team ask me what is going on in the U.S.  My Mexican (Sonora) construction manager fumed about the U.S.-Mexico border controversies, asking why should President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) should keep all the Africans, Indians (Hindu in Spanish), and Bangladeshis in Mexico as they awaited their asylum claims, instead of in the U.S.  I told him that his country isn't a diverse one. I added that if he wanted to continue with his country as it is, Mexico should not let the migrants pass from their southern border in the first place. After all, Mexico was very successful excluding Chinese immigrants following construction of intercontinental railroads.  He said yes, but Mexico, at least, admitted a community of about 3,000 Haitians in Tijuana who have integrated well into the community.

Another manager from the Republic of South Africa asked me why President Obama seemed like he always focused on his “blackness” except when he went to Ireland.  When he did that, he emphasized that Obama’s mother was white.  Well, I told my friend, President Obama wanted to fundamentally transform America to show that after 55 years of affirmative action, a black man could become president.  He asked me why the U.S. still has affirmative action if the purpose was to give non-white males and women advantages at a time when white males have become the minority today.  I honestly did not have an answer.

My Kazakh friend is well educated, astute, and a devout Muslim.  She enjoys watching movies from the West, and like many Kazakhs, she watches events such as the Academy Awards.  She asked me why the West likes to venerate the supposedly “brave,” openly homosexual actors, yet demonizes those who identify openly with their faith.  It disgusts her to see such open displays of same-gender affection in movies and in our national news.  I told her that maybe President Obama’s zeal to fundamentally transform America meant to give every minority a “louder voice” at the compromise table with the expectation that the majority become the abject listener and park their voice at the door.

Another supervisor, this one from the Philippines, asked why the U.S. put up with the drug cartels.  He said that his nation's President Rodrigo Duterte would likely have taken El Chapo out for a long walk off a short plank on a ship in the deepest ocean.  Well, I told him, we have laws to protect everyone, even the guilty.  He said yeah, like the dirty cops in the FBI and CIA who tried to frame President Trump.  Look what has (not) happened with them.

My Australian manager asked me what was up with this Odd Squad of newcomer congresswomen in America.  One thinks that bovine flatulence will accelerate the end of the world.  Another sought asylum with her father who changed their surname because he was allegedly the propaganda minister of a violent dictator.  Oh, and she also allegedly married her brother to gain citizenship for him.  Another said she was going to impeach the m’fer president the night she was elected.  And the last one said once you go black you never go back.  I said that the failed carpenter/mayor/Senator/socialist of a predominantly white-populated state who owns three houses and touts the ideals of communism must need to have someone to pass on his eminent knowledge.

My manager from Shanghai, with whom I have worked for nearly a decade, told me about his father, a policeman.  His father bucked Maoist totalitarianism.  He was sent to a re-education camp. He returned years later a broken man, both physically and mentally.  Had he not returned, my friend would not have been eligible to go to college and reach the level of success that he has. Meanwhile, his daughter has been going to high school and college in Canada.  She gained her citizenship and now her parents have dual citizenship too.  He said we should never trust Chinese politicians. They will do whatever they can to steal your technology and then shun you later.

My friend from the Czech Republic translated for me a brief article.  The essence of the article was that if Mel Gibson were going to reproduce he Passion of the Christ, what would he think Jesus’s thoughts were?  I asked him. He replied that he had hoped that Jesus would not be portrayed as a black woman like the new James Bond.  When asked why, he said he didn’t want to see such anguish for a woman as she was being tortured. 

My Turkish supervisor, who is married to a Russian, chastises me as a representative of President Trump, since after all, I am American.  He is disturbed that as a key member of NATO that the US refuses to sell F-35s to Turkey.  I told him that maybe some think it may not be a good idea to give such advanced weaponry to a country which would like to decimate the Kurds.  They were very staunch allies in the fight against ISIS, were they not?  And besides, look at how the U.S. has become dependent on China for rare earth metals that are used for sophisticated electronics in such military equipment.  Wall Street and the Chamber of Commerce may have sold out Main Street for a profit motive versus maintaining our defense.

Is it not interesting how such global, diverse opinions converge to help shape our public discourse in the world?  We should be thanking God every day that he gave us a president who truly wants to Make America Great Again and keep it so!

I have worked in Central Asia for the past decade.  On one project, I had people on my team from 30 different countries.  On the project I am working on today, I counted people from nine countries at a staff meeting one recent morning. It's fascinating. One has to tune one's ears to understand English spoken with so many accents to avoid loss of intent in the discussion. But it's worth doing because the perspectives are fascinating. 

Without fail, people on my team ask me what is going on in the U.S.  My Mexican (Sonora) construction manager fumed about the U.S.-Mexico border controversies, asking why should President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) should keep all the Africans, Indians (Hindu in Spanish), and Bangladeshis in Mexico as they awaited their asylum claims, instead of in the U.S.  I told him that his country isn't a diverse one. I added that if he wanted to continue with his country as it is, Mexico should not let the migrants pass from their southern border in the first place. After all, Mexico was very successful excluding Chinese immigrants following construction of intercontinental railroads.  He said yes, but Mexico, at least, admitted a community of about 3,000 Haitians in Tijuana who have integrated well into the community.

Another manager from the Republic of South Africa asked me why President Obama seemed like he always focused on his “blackness” except when he went to Ireland.  When he did that, he emphasized that Obama’s mother was white.  Well, I told my friend, President Obama wanted to fundamentally transform America to show that after 55 years of affirmative action, a black man could become president.  He asked me why the U.S. still has affirmative action if the purpose was to give non-white males and women advantages at a time when white males have become the minority today.  I honestly did not have an answer.

My Kazakh friend is well educated, astute, and a devout Muslim.  She enjoys watching movies from the West, and like many Kazakhs, she watches events such as the Academy Awards.  She asked me why the West likes to venerate the supposedly “brave,” openly homosexual actors, yet demonizes those who identify openly with their faith.  It disgusts her to see such open displays of same-gender affection in movies and in our national news.  I told her that maybe President Obama’s zeal to fundamentally transform America meant to give every minority a “louder voice” at the compromise table with the expectation that the majority become the abject listener and park their voice at the door.

Another supervisor, this one from the Philippines, asked why the U.S. put up with the drug cartels.  He said that his nation's President Rodrigo Duterte would likely have taken El Chapo out for a long walk off a short plank on a ship in the deepest ocean.  Well, I told him, we have laws to protect everyone, even the guilty.  He said yeah, like the dirty cops in the FBI and CIA who tried to frame President Trump.  Look what has (not) happened with them.

My Australian manager asked me what was up with this Odd Squad of newcomer congresswomen in America.  One thinks that bovine flatulence will accelerate the end of the world.  Another sought asylum with her father who changed their surname because he was allegedly the propaganda minister of a violent dictator.  Oh, and she also allegedly married her brother to gain citizenship for him.  Another said she was going to impeach the m’fer president the night she was elected.  And the last one said once you go black you never go back.  I said that the failed carpenter/mayor/Senator/socialist of a predominantly white-populated state who owns three houses and touts the ideals of communism must need to have someone to pass on his eminent knowledge.

My manager from Shanghai, with whom I have worked for nearly a decade, told me about his father, a policeman.  His father bucked Maoist totalitarianism.  He was sent to a re-education camp. He returned years later a broken man, both physically and mentally.  Had he not returned, my friend would not have been eligible to go to college and reach the level of success that he has. Meanwhile, his daughter has been going to high school and college in Canada.  She gained her citizenship and now her parents have dual citizenship too.  He said we should never trust Chinese politicians. They will do whatever they can to steal your technology and then shun you later.

My friend from the Czech Republic translated for me a brief article.  The essence of the article was that if Mel Gibson were going to reproduce he Passion of the Christ, what would he think Jesus’s thoughts were?  I asked him. He replied that he had hoped that Jesus would not be portrayed as a black woman like the new James Bond.  When asked why, he said he didn’t want to see such anguish for a woman as she was being tortured. 

My Turkish supervisor, who is married to a Russian, chastises me as a representative of President Trump, since after all, I am American.  He is disturbed that as a key member of NATO that the US refuses to sell F-35s to Turkey.  I told him that maybe some think it may not be a good idea to give such advanced weaponry to a country which would like to decimate the Kurds.  They were very staunch allies in the fight against ISIS, were they not?  And besides, look at how the U.S. has become dependent on China for rare earth metals that are used for sophisticated electronics in such military equipment.  Wall Street and the Chamber of Commerce may have sold out Main Street for a profit motive versus maintaining our defense.

Is it not interesting how such global, diverse opinions converge to help shape our public discourse in the world?  We should be thanking God every day that he gave us a president who truly wants to Make America Great Again and keep it so!