I didn’t even think of this topic as a big deal when I was taking Spanish 231 my first semester sophomore year, but one journal topic we could choose to write 1-2 pages on was “Pros and cons of living in the United States.” In retrospect, this is a vast and incredibly sensitive/heavy question. On one hand, the average American (and, particularly, Americans I’ve been surrounded by) has a much greater quality of life (in terms of available resources primarily) than the average citizen of many other countries, so there’s a high degree of fortune there. On the other hand, there are many costs of living in this country. I think that, for the most part, people who grow up in other countries experience many more formative life experiences than many kids growing up here do. It’s more difficult to travel outside of the country because it’s so vast. Not to mention we don’t really learn the history or even current affairs of other countries; We’re really obsessed with ourselves. This prompt is something that, once again, in retrospect, I wish I had been able to take advantage of. Since taking this class my sophomore year, I have met, befriended, and dated a greater number of people who were not citizens of this country than I had even met before this point.
While I was fortunate enough to have a grandmother who prioritized travel and seeing the world (taking me with her on a few trips), I did not have near this perspective at that time (and am sure I don’t have/will never fully attain a perfect perspective on this either). I think one thing, in addition to doing a deep dive into the real costs/benefits of living here, that would have been helpful is navigating such a sensitive topic. As I mentioned above, this issue could get contentious. To balance the acknowledgement of privilege while simultaneously bearing in mind the real cons of the politics, government, values, etc of the country would be difficult at best. How do you talk about that without feeling like you’re offending an incredible number of people? And while still expressing your own genuine thoughts?
I would like to see this as a 12+ pg assignment rather than a 1-2 page reflection.