Last year for the Babble website I wrote about 9 ways for American expatriates to celebrate July Fourth while living outside the USA. This year I decided to offer 9 suggestions for how not to celebrate, how not to be the ugly American, how not to be obnoxious or disrespectful. I love a good barbecue and picnic with friends and family as much as anyone (though fireworks displays have become more of a culture shock experience every time I see one Minnesota) but living overseas, especially if you live in a country or area hostile to Americans (or, what I find more often, where people warmly welcome individual Americans while vigorously despising America’s international policies), it may be to your benefit to be sensitive to your local neighbors.
1. Don’t drive through the neighborhood blasting Proud to be an American or Born in the USA
Your neighbors probably are already aware of both these things about you.
2. Don’t imagine yours is the only free country in the world
Americans aren’t the only people who deserve to be proud of their heritage and they aren’t the only people living in a free country, whatever ‘free’ means.
3. Don’t spend the rest of the year ignoring the celebrations that are important in your host nation
Take advantage of the incredible opportunity you have to learn and celebrate and enjoy new things: new history lessons, new foods, new customs.
4. Don’t ignore July Fourth
Either on the day or in the days leading up to it. This is a good opportunity for parents to teach their children about history. Its also a great time for a party and yummy deserts.
5. Don’t insist on celebrating with only Americans
Invite people from your host country to your barbecue or fireworks. Talk about patriotism and ask about their national holiday.
6. Don’t get angry or obnoxious if you don’t get the day as a vacation day at work
Be flexible with the date, throw a party on a different day. You probably had the local national day as a vacation from work, appreciate that and celebrate it.
7. If you live in a place cool toward Americans, don’t be overly showy
Don’t hang a flag outside your home or march around the office waving an American flag and chanting about how wonderful America is. You can still celebrate, but do so in your own home or at the US embassy or a friend’s home.
8. Don’t forget to use the day as an opportunity to introduce a new treat
Like s’mores might be a great hit among your local friends, or barbecue ribs or a red white and blue dessert.
9. Don’t forget to be grateful
America is far from perfect, all nations are far from perfect. You have the unique opportunity of living as an expatriate and experiencing both the United States and your host nation, or nations. Learn, grow, open your eyes and your life, and be thankful.
*image via Flickr