Chapter 3

How Many Strikes Are Against You?

Managing Preexisting Cultural Perceptions and Misconceptions

Every country’s citizens have to deal with other countries’ and cultures’ preexisting cultural perceptions or “strikes” against us. And we all have preconceived notions about countries and cultures other than our own.

If we happen to be a “U.S. American,” we’ve probably heard comments about “dumb Americans” based on another culture’s perceptions of our ignorance of other countries, their languages, their ways of life, and even geography. One of the things I often hear from other cultures is that many U.S. Americans don’t know their geography as well as they should. (I think most of us would admit that many U.S. Americans could use a good world geography lesson!) Roper Public Affairs conducted several surveys for the National Geographic Society that concluded that the average U.S. American aged 18 to 24 answered incorrectly 50 to 70 percent of the time when asked to locate various countries around the world. The Association of American Geographers in Washington, DC, called the results “alarming and discouraging.” I refer to Americans from the United States as U.S. Americans because when you think about it, there are North Americans, South Americans, Central Americans, and Latin Americans, so who are the real Americans? Technically, all the countries that are part of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which includes the United States, Canada, and Mexico, or the Central ...

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