Americans as Unwilling Diplomats

Der Spiegel has a story on American exchange students (G) in Germany who’ve had the same experience I have: being forced into ultra-tedious conversations about U.S. foreign policy everybloodywhere they go.  The story of one lad, Edward Janssen (my translation):

Edward Janssen describes the typical conversation with a German classmate. First question: What’s your name? Second question: Where do you come from? Third question: Did you vote for Bush? And then he’s right in the middle of a discussion of the Iraq war, the death penalty, gun laws, and environmental protection.

A German professor of American studies argues that the discussion culture is different in Germany, politics are the stuff of everday conversations, and direct questions about political views should not be seen as attacks.  An American college student who goes to schools to talk about the U.S. as part of a ‘Rent-an-American’ program has a slightly different take.  Noting the smug self-righteousness of the students she meets, she describes younger Germans as opinionated and knowing ‘exactly what’s right and wrong.’

I’ve got my own strategies for avoiding yet another conversation about politics (yawn) with a finger-wagging German, and I’ll share them when I get back into regular blogging rhythm (late July). In the meantime, have fun with the article.