To some, it may not matter. To me, it does: What does the world think of us?
Countless are the days I have thought that. Turned on my computer and cringed at the daily news feeds. Been baffled and outraged by the events unfolding before me. Mortified by the way the country I love is portrayed around the world.
Not an easy year to be an American.
But as I look over the past year's posts, I am reminded social injustice, political corruption, and greed affect people in every corner of the globe. That is where I find hope. In the commonality of the struggle. In the beauty of our unique perspectives. In the shared belief that all people on the planet are deserving of the same rights. And in the simple act of looking out our window each morning and taking in the world with equally grateful eyes and hopeful hearts.
From seven very different countries, here are words that illustrate our commonalties. Dispel myths. Words that inspired and surprised me in 2017. And continue to do so.
From Myriam in Mexico
~ My country is amazing for its solidarity, even during times that are tough to survive. I wish we were better at understanding that democracy and corruption can only be erased if we start by applying these ideas at home, and then in our neighborhood, and then in school, and then... so on.
~ I am enraged that the political agenda in America denies the importance of migrants from Mexico to the sustainability of America's economy. I am furious about the racist and ignorant rhetoric on how Mexicans act and live.
~ Our capacity for bringing ourselves up despite tragedy. That is the force that keeps this country together.
From Meltem in Turkey
~ I would like to set straight that we do not use the Arabic alphabet and not all the women wear turbans. We are a secular country.
~ Children and young people trying to accept each other without labelling. (what gives her hope)
~ War, losing my family and friends. (her greatest fear).
From Mehriban in Azerbaijan
~ For me, it is very important to improve education, economic sustainability, and intelligence level of our youth and adults. I mention adults because I think it is never too late to study and improve yourself.
~ Since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Azerbaijani people are rediscovering their language and culture with pride. The pace of change is rapid, and living amongst this awakening can take your breath away.
~ The climate of Azerbaijan is unique, as nine of the Earth's eleven climate zones are found in Azerbaijan. As a country located in both the Caucasus and Asia Minor, between the Black and Caspian Seas, Azerbaijan has a rich natural culture and the widest biodiversity of all the European states. There are 106 species of mammals, 97 species of fish, 363 species of birds, 10 species of amphibians and 52 species of reptiles which have been recorded and classified in Azerbaijan.
From Martin in New Zealand
~ I like the development that occurs in getting to know others, especially those very different to me; starting as strangers - often culturally and ethnically very different - and in time appreciating our differences and what we share.
~ Perhaps what we do best is in being good, decent people. We were the first country in the world to give women the vote, and one of the first to introduce homosexual law reform culminating in legal same sex marriage. I’m proud of that and our social welfare system. Both my children experienced very serious health problems; my daughter for 9 years. My fellow citizens funded the huge cost of her’s and my son’s health care.
~ Faith. Miracles and people's kindness. People full stop. I love people. I believe there is goodness in all human beings.
From Maria in Ecuador
~ Some people think that Ecuador is not a safe place to visit or in which to live. But, if it would not be a safe place, I would not have spent 37 years of my life enjoying my country.
~ I would like to say that we have our own roots originating from indigenous people. They still live and are examples of hard working, honest people who still live from products of nature.We should be proud of those roots and we must fight to maintain them intact.
~ Ecuador is a small country but with a tremendous diversity. It has beautiful beaches, mountains, jungle, and Galapagos Island. You can go from the capital to the nearest beach in four hours, and in the middle of the road you can find a beautiful place called Mindo, it is an ecological place full of nature, birds and rivers, there you can enjoy practicing extreme sports.
From Julian in Trinidad/Tobago
~ I would ask Americans to explore the Caribbean when they can whether it be Trinidad & Tobago or another island. I would also love Americans to have love for each other and help someone in need whenever you can.
~ Not many Americans know that we qualified for the Soccer World Cup in 2005.
~ I dislike the myth that the other islands in the Caribbean region think Trinidadians are rich and full of themselves.
From Jesus in Cuba
~ I live in the outskirts of the city of Guantánamo. My house is surrounded by fields and you can see nearby small mountains that encircle the valley of Guantánamo. It’s a beautiful landscape.
~ I would take you to my house because there I have humility, love and peace…there is no better place for me.
~ Being Cuban is my pride. Cuba is the country of my parents, my brothers and sisters, and my children. Here I have the pleasure of offering my hand to any brother or sister in the world.