8. Brian Crouch
I’ve had many long talks with refugees, recent immigrants and international students. Each had a personal perspective (individuals from same town still have unique perceptions), as well as a culturally driven perspective (different countries but similar socioeconomic backgrounds and ideologies). The one thing in common that all of them shared was a tendency to not understand the nature of the friendships/relationships they were making when they first arrived. A lot of hurt feelings and misunderstandings because of the sometimes shallow nature of American social interaction.
Yes, they’d meet with a lot of friendliness and amicable treatment, but there was a bit of cold water splashed in their faces as they assumed it was the beginning of a real friendship, and they’d seek the person out for activities, interaction, etc. A lot of Korean, Japanese, West African, and Middle Eastern folks said the same things: they thought they were making friends but they turned out to be arms-length acquaintances. Several expressed that they started to feel that the initial friendliness was phony or superficial. Fortunately, not all of their relationships went this way, and they often met great new real friends.
Here in this discussion, others have responded that they were surprised that Americans live so far from family. These interpersonal issues may be related: perhaps the depth of relationships aren’t as strong here, and bonds quickly forged are more easily broken. I don’t know.
I do remember a Nigerian friend expounding on this by asking me, “If I woke you up in the middle of the night and asked you to come with me, what would you say?”
“I’d ask what was going on…”
“You see,” he said. “My friends from my village would come with me, and on the way would ask, ‘Ade, where are we going?'”