Adolescent Americans

Like teenagers who believe, "it's all about me", American react to globalization as if it is a plot just to get them. After all the left wingers cry, the foreigners are stealing our jobs; meanwhile, the right wingers bemoan the foreigners as invaders who are taking over Alabama. Truly? Some people need to get out more. Out, that is, of the country.

In late October I found myself standing in the middle of a bunch of open-air artesania shops in Lima, Peru--where I had to laugh at the provincial American "poor me" POV on the global marketplace. Yes, it has changed things. And yes it continues to do so at lightening speed that at times is dizzying.

When a Chinese made, Peruvian flag is one quarter the price at the USA version of Amazon than in Peru--the world has changed. "But, it's better to buy it in Peru," the shopkeeper whined.

No, it's better to get the best price possible for somethings I thought, as I laughingly walked away.For the very same reason I have bought English Walker shortbread as gifts for my American family, in the USA rather than back from England where it was more expensive, why would I spend more for less?

In a Lima grocery store to get a local Sim card for the cell phone, I stopped dead in my tracks with my mouth open in shock. Halloween? Halloween is celebrated in Lima, Peru? But there before me big as it would be back home at Target were huge merchandising displays for Halloween. Do they "trick or treat"? Is it in Spanish or English? Do parents take the kids, or does the nanny? Questions so many questions.
What a change for Peru. In 1972 when I first lived there, "Yanqui go home" or "Yanqui afuera" was the graffiti spray painted on the walls. Now the graffiti looked like NYC subway scrawl. Santa Claus was banned in December of 1972 by the government, as a gringo thing. Now in Lima there was Halloween big as brass.

And the economy of the country was booming, with modest, two-bedroom apartments overlooking the Pacific Ocean priced in the millions--of US Dollars that is.

Speaking of Dollars, cash registers at a economy grocer rang up prices, in Peruvian Soles and US Dollars. The shopping bags were carbon-footprint friendly, biodegradable recyclable. Outside a Whole Foods-wannabee were recycling bins for glass, plastic and paper--and batteries. The developing world of the former Third World has apparently morphed into a subdivision of US culture.

A few days later on the airplane going home, the young man heading home to Japan confirmed that Halloween was also celebrated in Japan--JAPAN? Again, the mind boggled. How did that happen? Disney, he said.

Of course, further input from travels to my daughter's home in England found neighbors of her's with fond childhood memories of Halloween "trick or treating" of their youth. Bonkers! If the American-phobic French start to celebrate Halloween, it will be the end of culture as we've known it.

All of this is only grist into the globalized pot of culture our world celebrates today. So get over it, America. As you tell your teenagers, it isn't all about you or me or any one of us.







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    Candace Drimmer

    I was an accidental expatriate; love and marriage led me to it. One day I was a bandy-legged kid sitting atop my dogwood tree looking out of my small backyard world in 1950s New Jersey, wanting to move somewhere--anywhere, different. Next thing I knew my father had accepted a job in Houston TX. I was ecstatic, it was a foreign land in 1961 America. After high school graduation, my parents’ gave me a matched set of fawn-colored hardsided American Tourister luggage. Taking the hint, I went to college; well four colleges in five years--it was the 60s after all. Meeting a young hirsute anti-war, soon-to-be-Peace Corps volunteer, I fell in love. After finishing up college coursework for my degree, but before I even walking a graduation stage, I grabbed the paper airline ticket my boyfriend had sent me, my brand-new passport, and was off to the airport and Lima, Peru.

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