i've been put in the position of defending my country and my american citizenship countless times since i've been to prague. for the most part, i hate it -- i've never had so many people say completely rude things to me only seconds of cordial introductions. i understand that we are not the most popular of the world's citizens, but give me a break. that doesn't excuse you being rude to someone you don't even know. it's not like i meet a german person and the second sentence out of my mouth is "so, how about that time hitler killed all those jews?"
i can explain myself out of the barbs thrown by most. however, today, i was totally caught off guard.
i had some time this morning and found myself browsing in the bookstore. i saw a copy of "the adventures of huckleberry finn," and since it was only 97 crowns and it's one of those books i've been meaning to read for a while, i bought it.
i had it with me in the herna today, just sitting on the table. late in the afternoon, one of the girls from the fourth class, patty, asked me about it.
"what's it about?"
"well.. it's about a boy named huck finn, who runs away from home. he meets jim, a runaway slave..."
"what's a slave?"
try explaining several centuries of racial opression to a ten year old. i think i came up with "well, in the 1700s we brought people from Africa over to work on big farms."
i didn't quite finish and she said "ohhhh." like, ohhh, yeah, i know about that egregious violation of human rights carried out by your country. i just needed a refresher.
that was maybe the most awkward i've ever felt in a conversation. mostly because she was so young and i didn't want her first impressions of america to be george bush and books about racism. and how do you make it clear to someone who barely speaks english that we're not all a bunch of cunts?