Watching the World Cup

Posted: 16th June 2010 by admin in Uncategorized

Watching the world cup reminds me of an experience a couple of weeks
ago. My roommate is Swedish, and a mutual colleague of ours had married a
Swedish woman. She had heard that there was a get-together celebration
of the Swedish Flag Day, now become their national day.

It was a
bit strange, because Sweden has been traditionally protestant, and also
increasingly secular. The get together was organized by an Episcopal
church, and so I somehow got involved in singing Swedish church
psalms… which was interesting. I was told that my pronunciation was
quite good. Even though I could only understand maybe 20% of it, the
pronunciation is surprisingly close to German. I can read the words but
not understand them.

The interesting thing about it is that
while we sat down afterwards for Swedish meatballs on a smorgasbord and a
few members of the community started off a sing-along, my colleague’s
wife mentioned to my roommate that it’s kind of nice to hear Swedish all
around them again.

I tried to think: It’d be nice to take these
friends on a Vietnamese… No maybe a Swiss… no maybe an
Indonesian… well not a British… Wait…

It’s one of those
moments where you know that yes, you have some part in these cultures,
but you’ll never entirely be a part of them. You’ll never really be able
to mingle, or consider yourself one of them. Sometimes it’s nice and
comforting, but sometimes it’s not.

As it is, I support a lot of
different teams in the World Cup. I suspect many other people do,
because it’d be boring to just watch your own team. But despite that I
do identify a bit with Switzerland, with England, with Germany, and even
to some extent the fledgling US team though I can’t quite get myself to
actually want to cheer for them.

I’m charmed by the football
songs that England and Germany have created over the years, and they’re
all lovingly positive and nationally proud. The US doesn’t have the same
spirit of international sport competition except for the Olympics,
which is a different thing altogether, and most Americans settle for the
easiest and simplest chant “USA! USA!”

It’s just somehow a
little harder. And sometimes you realize how nice it would be to just
take one side, for once. But other times… I like that the English sing
“Vindaloo!”, and I like how the French sing about their football stars’
scandals, and I like the national pride that Germany can take in
football that they couldn’t for years out of war guilt. And I like that I
can appreciate all of this where others can’t.

It’s a different experience when you really, really identify with at least one team though. The Swiss win today got my roommate and I cheering and yelling.

  1. Anonymous says:

    My own version:

    Music that I’ve downloaded are from at least 5 nations, and you know that everyone
    will cringe seeing all of your downloaded music playlists

    Very westernized/westernized [to some degree] people think that you act very Asian,
    while very asianized/asianized [to some degree] people think that you act more

    You have 4 different messengers (since popularity of certain kinds of messengers
    vary depending on nations and/or culture)

    Some/few people think that you travel too much, while envying you at the same time

    You laugh hilariously at the thought of how your own wedding will be multicultural

  2. Anonymous says:

    I had a discussion with my Korean TCK friends about who to cheer for during World Cup and my friend said if Ethiopia played against U.S. she will cheer for Ethiopia and same for other countries against U.S. She basically wanted to cheer for the underdog. My other friend asked me if Japan played against Korea, who I would cheer for and I said it’s difficult to say because I feel like I am in the middle but because I got a nationalistic education in Korea, I would cheer for Korea, considering that Japan had taken over Korea for 36 years and the Japanese has done a lot of cruel things like the Nazis, and have never officially apologized.
    But then I said, if it was Korea vs. U.S. I would cheer for U.S., there was disturbance and all my Korean TCK friends went “I would cheer for Korea.”