Test How American You Really Are!

As promised in my last posting, here’s a simple self-assessment tool to rate yourself on your general knowledge of the world outside the United States. The fewer you get right, the more American you are, baby!

All have links so you can score yourself immediately (and get educated too—like you care, baby!).

1. Is Sweden East or West of Norway? Answer

2. Can you name the head of State for either Italy or China? Answer

3. Traveling west from Madrid, what country do you first encounter? Answer

4. Which is the most populous world religion—Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism? Answer

5. Where does the US’s biggest city (by population) rank globally? Answer

6. Have you ever heard of Shenzhen? Answer

7. In what country does Juventus compete? (bonus—in what sport?) Answer

8. Is Bangalore in the south or north of India? Answer

9. What language do they speak in Brazil? Answer

10. On what side of Australia (N, E, S, W) is Sydney? Answer

11. Is Ireland part of the United Kingdom? Answer


12. What currency is used in Belgium? Answer

13. Is Japan north or south of Vietnam? Answer

14. In which century was the country of Italy formed as a political entity? Answer

15. In which country is the United Nations headquartered? Answer


16. Which languages are spoken in Switzerland? Answer

17. Where is Catalunia? Answer

18. Where is Bosnia in relation to Poland? Answer

19. In what sport do the All-Blacks compete? Answer

20. What country lies between Iraq and Afghanistan? Answer part one and answer part two

21. Hugo Chavez—union leader, president, or owner of World Cup soccer champions? Answer

22. How many time zones are in Russia? Answer

23. Singapore is a former colony of what country? Answer

24. If you’re in The Hague, what country are you in? Answer

25. What language is spoken in Austria? Answer


OK, score time.

If you got:

20 or more: You are almost certainly a foreigner—absolutely not an American. You probably don’t know the difference between a Hoosier and a hot dog. You couldn’t tell motherhood from apple pie. You’re quite possibly a communist. We don’t like your kind around here. If you don’t like it here, go back to China and speak Japanese like the rest of them. Nuke gay whales for Jesus!

14 to 19: You may technically be an American, but clearly a lib-dem; 3 to 1 says you’re from New York, possibly San Francisco. You probably went to a private school, and you’re probably in favor of letting immigrants stomp all over our right to bear arms.

6 – 13: Wow, where’d you learn all that stuff? I mean, that’s a lot of work. Who’s got that kind of time? Don’t you think you should be spending your time more productively? It’s all well and good to travel internationally—hey I think Cancun rocks, and I even drove into Tijuana once—but you could be going to an MLB game instead, and supporting the US economy by buying American, like that Sharp TV I bought last month.

0 – 5: Congratulations, awright, you’re an American! Travel? Love it. Can you believe their accent in Buffalo? Great steaks in Dallas fer sure. I always liked the AFC teams best. We’re going overseas next summer, maybe Toronto. Or even New Mexico—do they take dollars there? Either that or a cruise to the Bahamas. Go Yew Ess Aye, Number One!

Americans, Travel and Rushing to Judgment

I travel internationally; less than some, more than many. These last three weeks I’ve been in three countries (the third visit for one, 10th and 20-something-th for the others).

Travel is good for everyone, I think, but especially for Americans. All right, OK—for me.

(On Monday I’ll have a tongue-in-cheek self-diagnostic test: find out just how American you really are!).

I know a few who love foreign travel. They assume that people are fundamentally the same, and delight in finding the superficial differences, the spices that make the human stew an infinitely varied source of nourishment.

I admire the hell out of them. Because unlike them, my first reptilian-brain instinct is to go to fear-based judgment. An all-too American response, I think. All right, OK—maybe it’s just me.

Here’s what I’m re-discovering on this trip:

• Judgment feeds on fear.
• Fear feasts on ignorance.
• Ignorance fades when one can hear others—in their terms.
• Our ability to influence depends on our willingness to be influenced.
• Our similarities far outweigh our differences.
• Our behavior in groups mirrors our behavior as individuals.

My personal road to growth has been exposure to others. For me as an American, the benefit of international travel is enormous. Yet only something like 20% of us have a passport. Absurdly few of us speak another language—usually poorly at that.

But what’s the link between individuals and groups? Does the road to corporate trustworthiness go through the individual?

Some see trust issues mainly as group issues. I’m more inclined to see groups as aggregations of individuals. Let’s assume and explore—at the risk of touching on politics—the latter.

Marriage-researcher John Gottman says marriages work best when we are vulnerable to and influenceable by our mates. They’re worst when we judge, shut down, and insist on changing the other.

Might nations be the same? Mark Twain says, "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness."

If Gottman’s observation extends to group behavior, then exposure to the world influences us. And, thereby, gives us influence.

Consider foreign student exchange programs, and how deeply they promote understanding. We could afford to spend $10,000 per head to send 500,000 Americans abroad to be influenced, and the same amount to bring 500,000 influenceable foreigners here—all for the cost of about two months’ spending on the Iraq war. With, arguably, better results. In any case, we could use a bit more of that perspective.

One of our presidential candidates said, “the security of the American people is inextricably linked to the security of all people.” It is no accident that this candidate “has a grandmother living in a hut on the shores of Lake Victoria and a sister who’s half-Indonesian, married to a Chinese-Canadian.” (Hint: it’s not Giuliani). We could use a bit of that kind of perspective too.

Peter Jennings—famously traveled—said, “Whenever I see a coin, I’ve learned to turn it over to see the other side.” We need a bit more of that view, I think.

My suggestions for travel in a new country or city:

  1. First, go walking. A lot. For hours. With no goal but to experience.
  2. Invest a few hours in the national historical museum.
  3. Find a local restaurant without using the concierge or guidebook.
  4. Be curious, not judgmental.

We need a bit of that too. Well, I do anyway.