The World Watching: Has The Global Community Changed Their Perceptions of the U.S.?

Political shifts in the U.S. have had cultural ramifications in the country that are large enough to be noticed by the global community. International and domestic students reflect on the ways they think their own communities have changed their perceptions of the U.S., if at all.

Pitchaya Chantanapongvanij ’19, Angthong, Thailand

How do you think Thailand has changed its perception of the U.S.?

Thailand’s actually pretty neutral in terms of like foreign politics. The national political situation is very hectic but in terms of national relations, we don’t really care much. Except the last a couple of years when we had the military coup, Obama’s government actually gave out a statement saying that they were against a military coup [in Thailand] and how it wasn’t a true democracy… He said it was in the right direction for the country to head towards… I think people didn’t really like [Obama’s] demeanor a lot because it wasn’t really backed with the correct kind of information.

So ever since Trump came, he’s not putting down the same statements that Obama’s government made and he’s actually boosting the economy.  He is boosting the trade between the U.S. government and the Thai government. So he’s actually improving our economy, so I think people actually like him in Thailand.

Jada Li ’21, Singapore

How do you think Singapore currently perceives the U.S.?

Singapore is a relatively peaceful country and not much is really happening, so with the U.S. constantly being on the news with various issues and also the recent political changes that have been going on, it’s almost been a topic of where a lot of people don’t take the country seriously. One of my friends who is American told me that whenever she gets into a taxicab or even an Uber in Singapore they will almost always ask her about Trump and like laugh about it and make jokes about it because they have some very significant views about the U.S. and their political system. I think this happens because there was so much controversy about our president.

Quinn Robinson ’19, Wellesley, Mass.

How do you think this community has changed its perception of the government?

I live in a fairly liberal place [and] went to a very liberal, small private school up until eighth grade, and now I go to Andover which [is also] predominantly liberal. And so as the party opposing Trump, I think obviously the community has become enraged by a lot of his decisions… I think a huge amount of people now are tuning into political news on the daily and seeing what was happening.

Jackie Rossi ’20, Brussels, Belgium

Have you noticed if the American perception in Belgium has changed?

The perception of the United States has changed. Previously, the U.S. represented leadership and stability as a global leader. Coming from Belgium, the center of the European Union, I feel that European leaders can no longer count on the U.S. as a reliable ally under the Trump administration. The U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Accord on climate change is incomprehensible.

Allegra Stewart ’18, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Do you think public perception of the U.S. has changed in the past few years?

Yes… I think a lot of the policies put in place over the last year really perpetuate the idea that Trump talked about a lot in the election which was like “America First.” [With] that concept in mind it’s hard not to alienate the broader international community.

How do you feel about the whole philosophy of “America First?”

[My sister and I] are citizens of three countries, so I think that I have a slightly different understanding because I was raised in England, so I feel a strong sense of [being] British… And then my dad’s always been very insistent upon our connection to Canada, so… for me it’s been more significant because I don’t just have one alliance. When [Trump] says that… it’s hard for me to agree with him… It is a really harmful idea and if we’re ever going to get anything done with problems that affect the broader international community like climate change… I think it makes people a lot less willing to collaborate, which we’ve seen in the UN and even recently with “whose button is bigger?”

Michael Lu ’21, Beijing, China

Has your family’s perception of the U.S. changed?

I would say my family [in China], they’re kind of surprised by how Trump’s family is [welcoming of] our culture which is kind of like different than what we had expected. Right now, we’re kind of astonished by how embracing Trump, his family, his government is towards Chinese culture in general, so I would say a positive change [is taking place]… My dad is into economics and finance, so he thinks that especially in terms of employment and industry, Trump is possibly providing more opportunities. In this case, [Trump is providing] more benefits and income maximum interest for the nation as a whole.