Participation Trophies

Participation Trophies

Why is it that the baby boomers criticize the millennials for believing we can be anything we want? They point at the participation trophies and blame them for my generation’s “selfishness.” They laugh at our dreams and roll their eyes at our aspirations to travel. Our own parents now frustrated with our pursuit of happiness.

But that is just it…. They are our parents. The same people who are criticizing us are the ones who raised us. They were the ones who led us to believe that anything is possible. And they were the ones who handed out those participation trophies. When they told us we can be anything, they meant doctors, lawyers, or any of those “acceptable” jobs. What they didn’t understand was how much the world was changing. How much technology was overhauling our workdays and how connected the world was becoming. There were possibilities now available to us that older generations could never even fathom.  As millennials we grew up with this change happening before our very eyes and became eager to be a part of it, only now to be disappointing our parents.

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Australia Graffiti

Trump in Australia

Like most of the world, Australia does not like Trump. It seems that at least part of the United States is blind to the what the rest of the world knows instinctively. As an American is Australia, I was relieved to be escaping the political turmoil in the United States right now. One of the best things about being abroad was not having to see Trump’s name in the news every day. Unfortunately, there is no full escape from American politics no matter where you may be, but it was a nice vacation most days.

Of course, when I was adventuring around Australia, I did happen to stumble upon some anti-Trump rhetoric. It was refreshing to be in a country where whenever Trump was mentioned, it was not immediately followed by “Make America Great Again!” My first exposure was the morning news. Some mention of another outrageous thing Trump has said, a monotonous norm unfortunately. But there was no defense of his actions. Just a quick comment on his stupidity, and they moved on just as quickly as they started. There were a few more similar instances other mornings throughout my time there.

Apart from the news, an obvious Trump outlet, one of my first weeks in Australia, I stumbled upon a flyer with the President of the United States as the main topic. In a country halfway across the world, about as far as you can get from the United States, its citizens were preparing for an anti-Trump rally. The other Americans and I laughed at the sight.

Numerous times I heard conversations nearby of people discussing Trump’s bad behavior or at least alluding to their displeasure for his actions. Even my mentor seemed to be trying to hold back her bitterness toward my American president. It seems that all the way opposite the globe, Trump was a constant topic of conversation.

Even the international people in my program seemed to think our leader was a buffoon. Although they all came from different backgrounds and countries, they all seemed to agree on at least that. One Japanese girl asked me point blank the first week if I had voted for Trump. She then proceeded to talk about her distaste for the man and how she missed Obama. Another intern from the Philippines explained to me and the other Americans about how frequently the United States and Trump were in the news when he was back home.

And finally in my last few days in Australia, I was walking to meet my friends for taco Tuesday when I stumbled upon the graffiti at the top of this post. Melbourne is known for its street art, and it was not the first time I had seen something related to Trump; this one was just so unique. In my weeks there, I had seen images in an alleyway of Trump’s face and his signature combover outlined by a big red circle and a line across it. I had seen the same general theme elsewhere only as paper wrapped around a chainlink fence to form the image. One Saturday in Hoosier Lane, Melbourne’s most famous graffiti laneway, I had even found some street art questioning the size of Trump’s… member.

I can only recall one time in Australia when Trump was associated with something positive. My friends and I were riding the tram back to our accommodation when a man must have noticed that some of us had an American accent. He starting speaking to one of us in particular about how “Trump is the best thing to happen to the States.” As we reached our stop and hopped off the bus eagerly, I could have sworn I heard him say something about “Making America Great Again.” If I had not known any better, I would have thought we were in the heart of Alabama.

Now that I am back in the States, Trump has unfortunately once again become a constant presence in my everyday life. A heated argument almost always follows as Americans both defend and chastise him. Well, my brief respite down under was nice while it lasted.