Insights into being American

Today after class we were fortunate enough to go on a tour of the Mining Museum here at our university. It was amazing! There were so many interesting things and fabulous specimens not only of rocks and gems, but also dinosaurs and other ancient artifacts.

Afterward Rachel and I went to Menshikov Palace. It was quite small and not as elaborately decorated or furnished as we’d imagined it would be. I guess the word palace doesn’t always mean something lavish and stunning. Afterward we attempted to visit the Church of the Savior on the Spilled Blood but it was closed. Then we bought some souvenirs at the market there and went to McDonald’s for food.

At McDonald’s we had a very interesting conversation with two young men from Chechnya. They came and sat down at our table and struck up a conversation with us. We spoke both in Russian and English and after chit-chatting for a while, they began to inquire about American politics, the upcoming election, and various other touchy issues. At that moment we began to feel a bit uncomfortable because they were emphasizing the fact that they were Chechnyan and that there had been injustices done to them by our government.

After eating we excused ourselves and went on our way. Rachel said that she wondered if they intended to kidnap us. It was a joke but it definitely brought us back to the reality of what it meant to be American abroad. Even though some people may feel that our government has wronged them, or even feel anger that our culture is encroaching on their own, we as individuals are not always directly responsible for this. However some people cannot see past your nationality and lump you together with all Americans and everything American, including negative thoughts and stereotypes. It’s unfortunate but true. It also made me aware that I am sort of an unofficial ambassador for my country, whether I want to be or not, and so I am trying to represent our country well while I am a guest in Russia.

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