My national identity, well to start off with, have pale skin, blonde hair and blue eyes… you would have to be silly to not know that I am a “gringa” and trust me, people here aren’t silly in that respect.  I am assuming the topic of “cultural baggage” means stereotypes that are usually associated with people from the United States.  I have not experienced many problems with anyone here in Ecuador. The only stereotypes that people told me about were that everyone thinks “gringos” are rich and ignorant about the rest of the world.  I do believe that there are many people from the States who are ignorant, but I also believe you can find ignorant people all around the world.  As for the rich part, that’s not always true either.  I don’t like being stereotyped just because I come from a certain country, I would rather have people get to know me and then make a decision about me.  I am proud to be from the United States, I do not care what anyone says.  One experience that comes to mind when I think about my national identity was on September 11th, 2011 when an Ecuadorian started talking badly about the U.S and I got so offended that it brought me to tears.  It is hard to be in another country during such an emotional time in United States history. I can say that I have become a lot more sensitive to what I say and how it may affect someone and their own national identity because of that experience.

Jenny LeMere is studying abroad at Universidad San Francisco de Quito in Quito, Ecuador.