Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Keep It Absurd America

A couple weeks ago I wrote about a friend of a friend's adventures as an counsultant in Vietnam. If you did not have the chance to read it, just after graduating from UC Santa Barbara, this young "consultant" went looking for adventure and entrepreneur opportunities in Vietnam. After eight months of ups and downs, he eventually decided to return to California. He wrote a great synopsis of his experience, highlighting insights about himself, business, and life.

Vietnam Synopsis

After reading it over the first time, one part in particular stood out.
Americans, on the other hand, what a bunch of silly people we are. Every one of my American friends either works for an NGO, doing traffic safety or health communications or protecting the environment, or they're working in finance or economic research, investing money and crunching numbers. We're all either trying to save the world or take it over. We're all writers and we're all photographers too. We all have some big story about what we're doing with our lives and why we're in Hanoi, and we have hundreds of quasi-artsy photos to prove to our friends on facebook how much fun it is. Few of us last even a year out here before we move on to our next big opportunity to be even more special and exciting. We are completely absurd.

I love the fact that unbridled and indulgent optimism is what I, as an American, bring to the table. During my time at HK Baptist University, I had multiple discussions with other exchange students about the presidential election that was coming up. I got an overwhelming feeling that what others have come to expect from Americans is optimism. That tomorrow can be better than yesterday and that changing the world for the better is entirely within an individuals hands.

Yes we are absurd, but in my opinion, our optimism is our best export.

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