(ZEN-uh-fyl, ZEE-nuh-)

noun: One who is attracted to foreign things or people.

“Americans are very friendly and very suspicious, that is what Americans are and that is what always upsets the foreigner, who deals with them, they are so friendly how can they be so suspicious they are so suspicious how can they be so friendly but they just are.” Gertrude Stein

I have just learned this word which is the opposite of xenophobe a word I know and have heard too much lately. I am a xenophile. As soon as someone speaks to me in a foreign accent, I want to know where they are from, how long they have been here and how do they like it. I want to know about their country as well. The longer I speak to someone who’s first language is not English, the more I begin to sound like English is not my first language either. It is a bit of traveling in my day without leaving the country. It sparks a memory or makes me think about planning a trip.

Im overly friendly when I meet someone who is from a country I have just visited – a waiter, a parking lot attendant, a sales clerk or the person on-line behind me at the grocery store. I’ll just randomly start talking about their state or village. It’s definitely awkward. I don’t have a fear of saying the wrong thing because I usually do. I smile, not like a prom queen, but because I’m genuinely interested in anything they are going to say about their country. It usually goes well. People like to talk about themselves and like that you know their part of the world.

You get to hear their impressions of America and Americans. One of the things people have to get used to here is that we use over the top adjectives and smile a lot. We are not happy all the time and all the smiling is cute but confusing to cultures that don’t smile a lot or New Yorkers. Everything is not awe-inspiring or awesome to people who know the meaning of the word.

We like to say we are “Irish or “South African” or “Italian” to people who are actually from those countries. They don’t like it.

They think it is funny that we write the month before the day. I always get annoyed with the rest of the world for not doing that.

I notice that when I talk about politics to people who are not American I am very PC but I get defensive when they criticize our government even though I feel the same way.

Around the world, they are starting to say that we are a people who are always shooting at each other like we have nothing else to do. We are a scary country to visit now.

I met a nice looking man who had been here for three months legally and looking for a job. He had a beautiful accent and I couldn’t figure it out where it was from.  He had always heard Americans liked people from different backgrounds because that was who we were, yet he felt his accent was keeping him from finding a job. Though he had a business degree, he was willing to take any job and start at the bottom. i said it was probably that he had no work experience here. With the condition of the world these days, being a xenophobe is definitely becoming more popular than being a xenophile.

Fly safe,

4 thoughts on “Xenophile

  1. A nice way to write about the flip side of Xenophobia, without hammering the obvious. And it couldn’t be more timely!

    Sent from my iPhone


Comments are closed.