In the revelation that I’m American, I am met with an array of emotions ranging from disbelief to curiosity to judgment. Some find it hard to believe that decency and American can be synonymous. Other’s are curious about American culture, while most of the judgment boils down to the current political climate. Some want to talk about current events, while other’s are more interrogative about President Trump. It’s undeniable that his administration is like none other before. Particularly in the European continent, he has garnered widespread unpopularity– and this sentiment is made known.

My saving grace has been that I’ve been able to engage in these conversations being informed and the conviction that a country’s leader, as is often the case around the world, is not representative of a nation of people. And that the people of the United States are more than what we may be portrayed as.

That’s not to take away from the warranted, necessary criticism of the government, but there are individuals and groups throughout the U.S. that are working to make progress in matters such as human rights and the climate crisis. Of course, it would be even more effective if the government was on board with the people.

But if history has taught us anything, activism for the “right thing” has often preceded political change. We must not let ourselves be fooled into believing we’re too small to make change happen, or that just because that’s the way somethings always been, that’s the way something always will be. If we had accepted that way of thinking, we wouldn’t have the progress in human rights that we have so far today.