Vermont is not the land for McDonald lovers

A portrait of local farmer in Vermont, exhibited at Griswold Library Pic source: Rural Vermont

A group of  gathered at our college’s Griswold library on the evening of last Friday. They were in their usual attire – in worn out jackets and  knee-length snow boots. As a proud daughter of a farmer from Burma, I always hold a high respect for the persons in farming profession.
In my eyes, they look  great ever, even in their wore-outjackets.These farmers were here to attend  the opening ceremony of their portrait photo exhibition, organized by Rural Vermont, a non-profit organization for farmers in Vermont.

At the library’s lobby area, their portrait pictures that they proudly posed, along with their written stories, will be exhibited for a month starting from February 6.

My friends from Burma always find it surprised if I tell them about American local farmers I meet in Poultney and local farms in Vermont.

However, they always quickly cut my conversation short and redirect it with the kind of questions relating to the world-wide stereotyped image of the United States –  “How about the subway system in the United States? Have you ever been to any McDonald? Which kind of cell phone are you using now?” or “By the way, have you been to soccer field sized shoe stores in California?

Obviously, they want to hear more exotic topics out of my experience in the United States. Another reason they do not show interest in my conversation is that they find hard to relate old-school style farming and farmers with the image brand of the United States as the world’s super power.

Many people, outside the United States, are impressed the country’s democratic values as well as its economic power. They have seen America as the land capitalism is unbeaten.

The third world countries want the United States’s giant firms to invest in their countries and build (at least) a good term of diplomatic and economic tie with the United States.

Visitors at the photo exhibition of Vermont Rural Farmers

Some of my Burmese friends see my college years in the United States as a good opportunity for me to exercise the country’s democratic values as well. “Wai – good for you. Now, you are in the United States where everybody is equally treated and freedom of expression is well preserved.”

Along with those most desirable images that every citizen of any country wish to have in their land, the United States also faces difficulties to erase its world-wide bully image.

Countries may want to build a close tie but, at same time, they are afraid of the influence of the United States’s military power, and exploitations its multi-nation corporations eventually bring in.

For some people, the United States is appealing to be as good as “the heaven” but some other people thought that it is as bad as “the hell”.

However, most of the things that the outside world has accepted as the real image of the United States are not true.

It is the country, you will see, majority of the people are suffering from the government system which a small group of people influences Washington to produce their favorable policies which will protect their business.

My friends, you may argue that, at least, people in the United States can elect the presidential candidate they like every four years. I do not deny that it has a better government system than my own country does.

However, I also learn that, in the United States, there is no candidate, without the financial endorsements of giant business firms, who can ensure the victory in those such multimillion dollars election campaigns.

After giving a brief explanation about the photo exhibition by an organizer, a farmer stood up, and gave a brief speech about his life. At the moment, the whole room got silent. His clear voice was repeating in my heart, even after I left the room – “We do not have freedom even to sell our own foods. We do not have freedom even to eat what we want.”

There are many local farmers across the United States, who fight against to serve for their community, and who care for their mother earth, and who are working hard to help their country recorrect its prolonged bad reputation on the international stage.

I am glad in the fact that I have got a chance to know the later group of people, and to live and study at the most beautiful and the  best enviornmental friendly place I have ever been.

Visitors at the photo exhibition of Vermont Rural Farmers

There is no perfect place like the heaven on this earth – unless it is ‘the’ heaven. Of course, the United States is not as perfect as “the heaven.”

Yet, like many other lands, the United States also has, at least, the other side – which is not as evil as “the hell”, but which is much appreciated.

I find it in the hearts of farmers from Vermont.

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About Wai Phyo Myint

Wai Phyo Myint is a senior at Green Mountain College, majoring in Political Journalism. She is now in Cambodia doing her senior studies and volunteering as an Communications/Advocacy strategy intern with International Labour Organiations in Phnom Penh.
This entry was posted in Blog posts, Burma/Myanmar, Global Issues and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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