Its tragically hilarious how ignorant Americans are about the world’s geography. Since Diene moved here, I have watched the evolution of his answer to the question: “Where are you from?” At first, the dialogue went something like this.
American: “Where are you from?”
American: Blank stare.
Diene: “Its in West Africa.”
American” Perking up a bit. “Ooooh, Africa. Sure. So are you near South Africa, then?”
Now he starts at the end. When people ask where he’s from, he just says Africa. This tends to satisfy us Americans, who think Africa is just one big homogeneous place. I went through similar dialogues after coming back and explaining where I had been and that I had studied language.
American: “Cool. Teach me how to say hello in African.”
Today I am grateful for maps, atlases, bilingual dictionaries and, mostly, for the people who read them.