Where in the world…?

by monicasjungle

This morning I overheard a heated conversation in our office kitchen.  One guy, from India, and the other guy, an American, were discussing how most Americans have a very poor sense of geography.  The Indian guy was complaining that when he mentions that he’s from India, most people respond with a blank stare or a confused look.

So they walk by my desk and I immediately jump in the discussion.  Instead of arguing, I agree.  Sadly, I remark, most Americans don’t know much about geography.  These subjects are not emphasized enough in our public schools.

Now before I bore you with my tirade on public schools, (which I am SO tempted to go into, but not sure if I have the mental energy to get all worked up about this) I’ll shorten it up by saying: Public schools offer too many fluffy “elective” classes, which are essentially a waste time.  Home Ec?  Parenting?  Cooking?  Shop?  

My High School Spanish teacher, Mr. Robinson, (who is black) introduced himself to the class by saying, “I am from Panama.  One time a student asked me ‘Where in Africa is Panama?'”  (If you don’t get that ‘joke’, you should really google the location of Panama)  

So it came as no surprise that during our first week of class, Mr. Robinson gave us a map of Central and South America and made us memorize the location of each Country and their Capital city.  And then – much to our chagrin he gave us a quiz on them!  

It’s true, Americans are dumb when it comes to Geography.  Myself included.  To combat this ignorance, I’ve tried to pepper my life with maps.  I used to have a *huge* world map that hung above my living room couch.  My current bathtub shower curtain is a large, colorful global map.  (I bought it at Target, in case anyone is interested)  When I brush my teeth, I study it and try to memorize countries and regions that are unfamiliar to me. 

You never know when you’ll meet someone and they’ll say, “I’m from Bhutan.” And then you can cleverly respond, “Oh, yeah, Bhutan!  East of Nepal, north of Bangladesh, and south of China.”

Just try not to smile when you render them speechless.