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Do Africans roast people and eat them on sticks?

The news of my intention to join the Peace Corp has been circling around my family. So with this, the younger members of my family are starting to ask questions, and there are a lot of young people in my family. Just between my sisters I have 11 nieces and nephews and I even have become a great aunt at the young age of  26. My niece seriously asked me this question, “Do Africans roast people and eat them on sticks?” Of course I wanted to bust out laughing, but me and all of my sarcasm said ” Only in South America”. Then came the next question, “But what if they eat you?” Then I had to explain to her that cannibalism is rarely, if ever practiced anywhere and that nobody would want to eat me because I am a skinny vegetarian that probably wouldn’t be tasty anyway.  Then to top things off, she told me that as soon as her computer was fixed that she would do research on the internet and e-mail me a report!!!!

The whole conversation got me to thinking about perception, How do Americans see people from different countries? My niece is only 11, so I am wondering where she got the idea that African people do this. I’m guessing from television and books, because i do not know of an adult that would seriously tell her this. Which speaks sadly of the way people of different races and nationalities are portrayed in today’s programming  This also led me to think of the way Americans are thought of by other nationalities. Now, I’ve heard good and bad things about the world’s view of Americans from a number of different polls, news papers and many other media outlets, but most of them do not exactly describe me. This leads me to one of the reasons that I wanted to join the Peace Corp, I do not want celebrities and politicians creating the world image of the average American. I want people from other countries to see that we are not all stereotypes of excessiveness, that we are a diverse nation that is not perfect, and that we do care about the world and not just ourselves.

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