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The Leaving Journal


NEW ZEALAND | Wednesday, 11 March 2015 | Views [796]

My time in Australia and New Zealand has given me a deep appreciation for the natural beauty in the United States. It seems to me that wilderness - mountains, forests, rivers, beaches - are more celebrated in this part of the world. The parks are more well-funded, maintained and staffed. The locals speak with reverence about the beauty of their country. These communities seem to pride themselves on their land in a way Americans don't - at least, not enough.

It's hard to say because I can't put myself in the shoes of a visitor to my home country. Perhaps, as a tourist here, I am just seeing more of that reverence and praise for the land because people want me to. The US is my home, so I'm not sure how our value system looks to other people. But I have gathered through conversation that the most popular destinations for many US visitors are LA, Florida and Las Vegas. If this is what our tourism industry rides on, then I can confidently say our society undervalues the natural, physical beauty of the United States.

So when Roselyn, a well-travelled lady from Melbourne, told me she had been to Virginia, I was surprised. I told her it is easily one of our most beautiful states and I grew up hiking and camping in the south east. Her eyes lit up as she talked about baseball games with raucous, face-painted fans, the patriotism reflected in flags billowing from every house in a neighborhood, the raw beauty of the Chesapeake Bay and the Appalachian Mountains. She told the story of hearing a police band at Harper's Ferry and the powerful serenity that emanated from the crowd as they stood and placed hands over hearts for the Star Spangled Banner. Her enthusiasm and appreciation for a culture, my culture, that is often demeaned moved me to tears.

There's a lot wrong with America. Most of it is stuff that other countries have figured out already. But it's refreshing and uplifting to see my homeland through a foreigner's eyes and know that it still looks beautiful.

Tags: america, characters, cultures, home, people



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