Unfortunately, Donald Trump was recently elected the 45th President of the United States of America. As you can tell from the first word in this blog post, I am not a fan of Trump. There are so many aspects of his personality and future policies I dislike that it would probably take me multiple blog posts to explain my disdain for Donald Trump.
However, this post is not about Donald Trump. This post is about the perception of the USA in Senegal. Coincidentally, another student in my program gave a presentation about the perception of the US in Senegal a day before the election results. She interviewed some of her host family members and Senegalese friends about what they thought about the US.
Based on her findings, she concluded that Senegalese people have an idealized view of the United States. This is not to say that all Senegalese people think this way about the US but that was a common theme among everyone. They think that life in America is easy, there are more opportunities, and that anyone can make it. Some people said that racism is dead, it’s easy to find a job, and there are no problems in America.
I will agree that there are many opportunities in America but that doesn’t mean they don’t come with obstacles. Yes, there are job openings but you have to meet the qualifications and often times have a degree. Yes, there are a lot of scholarships to attend college/university but some of them have application fees or require more time than you’re able to commit to them. Yes, there are tons of career advancement programs but you have to meet the qualifications and put in the time. Not to mention, there are so many other obstacles and commitments that come with obtaining the opportunities in America.
Life is by no means easy. You have to find a good paying job, housing, and buy groceries, clothing, and other miscellaneous expenses. Of course, there are ways to reduce your costs but in general, the average American is almost always working just to survive. However, the America that people see in Senegal is wonderful. The media shows America as a place that is always wonderful with no problems.
I find it extremely sad that people have the wrong idea of America and I’m not sure of how this idea could change. I’ve tried to explain to some people I’ve met that America is not what they think it is but they usually end up laughing in my face. I’m curious to ask people more about their opinions about America before I leave since it’ll be closer to Trump’s inauguration in January. Perhaps their opinions and perceptions will change once they realize that Trump really is going to be the next President of the United States of America. Or, their minds won’t change and they will still believe in the idea that America is always rosy.
Until next time,