I knew that I’d have at least a couple of conversations on American political and social issues while in Asia, and sure enough I did. No surprise, the presidency of Donald Trump was a common theme, but there was another topic that stands out in my memory. Just as many Americans (myself included) have misconceptions about what life is like in Japan and Korea, many people from those nations have misconceptions about what life is like in America, and perhaps most troubling is the idea that America is the Wild West with everyone carrying guns and violence breaking out all the time on every single street corner in the country. Events like the recent Las Vegas massacre reinforce this image and some people in Japan and Korea are scared to visit America for fear of being shot. While I agreed that gun violence in America is far too high and I sympathized with those who were concerned about traveling to America, I also felt compelled to clear up some of their misconceptions. I shared my knowledge of gun violence statistics, as well as my own perspective on American society and the problems it faces. Hopefully I helped some rethink their preconceptions of America, just as a few Japanese and Koreans helped me rethink my own preconceptions of their countries.

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