Welcome to the CIE's On-line Study Abroad Orientation.

How to Handle Anti-American Criticism

As you meet people outside of the United States, you will begin to discover that others don't always think the way we do. People from other countries are often presented with a very different view of Americans. As a representative of the United States, people will be very curious to see if the stereotypes they hold are true. You will be probably expected to answer questions about American politics, geography, values and other issues. Commonly asked questions include:

§   Why are Americans so materialistic?

§   Why are they so wasteful of natural resources?

§   Why are Americans so racist? How can you justify forcing the Native Americans onto reservations when the whole country belongs to them?

§   Why are Americans so ignorant of other countries?

§   Why does America give so much foreign aid to countries that abuse human rights?

§   Why are there so many homeless people in "the richest country in the world?"

§   Why are teachers so poorly paid in a country that claims to have one of the best educational systems?

§   Why does the U.S. try to behave as the policeman of the world?

Strategies for Responding to Anti-American Criticism

At times, you may experience direct criticism, and though healthy, mature debate can be a good tool towards cross-cultural understanding, it is important that you develop strategies for dealing with aggressive criticism in an appropriate manner. The best method for dealing with confrontation is to defuse hostility or anger by responding calmly, without defensiveness, and subsequently removing yourself from the situation. This is not the time to feel that you must defend our administration’s policies and actions. Anti-American sentiment is prevalent, and it is wise to recognize this and not take criticism personally. Try and understand your critic's motives and beliefs. Realize that ideas about Americans and American policies may be based on (incorrect) information presented in the media.

1. Read the article "Being an American Abroad"

1. Read the article "The Lie Students Tell Abroad"

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