11 January 2010

A Vietnamese's Impression of America

Before settling down in America, my impression of it was whatever the adults told me from the TV shows. Television was a rare commodity that not everyone can afford, but we knew about Mission: Impossible, Bonanza, Star Trek, etc. I do not recall ever watching an entire episode or what language the shows were presented in. Probably in English and not translated into Vietnamese. We referred to the characters of the various show in our own way, such as "The Man With Silvery Hair" or "Donkey Ears". We believed that the cowboys were good guys and that the red-skinned savages were bad. We probably learned the "red" part from somewhere else because back then TVs were black-and-white only. We thought everyone in America was rich, probably from M:I. Everyone wore suits and other nice clothes. We knew that people didn't dress like cowboys and of course Star Trek was futuristic stuff. Possibly also from M:I we thought that there were only two kinds of people in America, black and white. When we moved to our apartment in the Bronx, we were surprised to meet Hispanic and Mexicans, even though there were not that many of them at the time. At John Peter Tertard JHS, I was surprised to meet Greeks, Koreans, Russians, and others. Of course, later on when I learned American history it all made sense. Without that knowledge, I even thought that American speak "American" language. From the TV shows, I also thought that people wore shoes into the house and left them on, even while sleeping, probably from some episode in which a character stayed at a hotel.

What was/is your impression of the United States of America?

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