Ugly North Americans

Over and over again students who have been in the ACA program advise other students who are coming to forget that they came from North America and how good things were there, and try to understand and adapt themselves to the campus and country culture. Avoiding references to how good it is back home and how things are done in Canada or the United States will go a long way in helping to develop positive friendships abroad.

Students who force themselves and others who wish to speak to them to speak in the host language, not English, succeed rapidly. Of course, if one is outgoing, that is easier, but even students who are more timid must push themselves to seek host country friends, to speak the host country language, and to insist that others do likewise. Whenever possible, in social types of occasions—when eating in the cafeteria, going to worship, playing athletic games, or attending other kinds of social occasions—ACA students need to seek out host country persons for fellowship. Nothing sounds better to host country people than their “mother” tongue, and they are delighted to help students learn it by speaking to them.

There may be some criticism of Americans and Canadians by host country students. They are the hosts. It is their country, and they are proud of their country and the way they do things. If someone is less flexible and adaptable and does not seem to wish to be a part of their culture, it will bring separation and, perhaps, strong criticism. In the past there have been students from the United States and Canada who have not been positive in their behavior, and often current ACA students will need to undo the negative impressions that have been left by insensitive students from the past.