American People

Diversity

Based on estimation from the US Census Bureau, by July 2000, the US population is like this:

Total population 303.8 million 100%
White, non Hispanic 224.6 million 73.9%
Black 34.8 million 11.5%
Hispanic 31.3 million 10.3%
Asian 10.8 million 3.6%
Native American 2.3 million 0.8%

Even though the US population is currently dominated by the white, both the black and Hispanic population are growing faster than the white. If this trend continues, in the middle of the 21st century, no racial group will be the majority, which means even the largest group will have less than 50% of the total population.

Family

Most families have 2-4 children. Because of the divorce rate of over 50%, a significant amount of families have children from different marriages. There are also a lot of sing-parent families.

Women with children may choose to stay home, which is good for the children. One decent income is usually good enough to support a family. However, the trend is that more and more moms choose to go back to work shortly after having a child.

In 1997, 11% of American families earned less than $10K, while 40% earned less than $30K. About 22% earned between $30K and $50K, and 20% earned between $50K and $80K. Less than 10% earned over $100K. Middle class is defined as somewhere between $35K and $120K. Therefore, over 40% of the families are poorer than the middle class, and less than 10% are richer.

Americans move a lot. Parents and grown-up children often live far away from each other. Even they live close, they seldom live in the same house. The traditional season for families to get together (called family reunion) is the Thanksgiving holiday.

Parents have the obligation of raising their children to 18 years old. They may provide some financial support for their children's college education. Most college students need to work and earn some money to finish college. Many students take student loans and end up paying off the loan during the first few years in their career. A lot of children start to make their own money at very young age, by delivering newspaper, doing house work for others, working in a restaurant or store etc. Therefore most children have already had some working experience before college.

Financially, parents seldom depend on their children. If they have saved for retirement, they are in good shape. If not, there is still social security etc. for basic needs.

Social

For the most part, American people are polite and warm to others. It's even more so in the south than in the north, and in rural areas than in big cities. Many would say hello when they run into strangers in a situation where there is not a big crowd around. Some people would tell everything about themselves to a stranger they meet on an airplane or somewhere far from home, assuming they will not see each other ever after. On the other hand, people that are close to each other tend to avoid talking about things that are considered privacy, such as income, the price of valuable things a person owns, a woman's age, etc. But they do like to say good words about each other, such as "You look good" or "Nice tie!"

When people visit friends, they are much often very direct about what they need. If the host ask whether you need something to drink, and you say "No," you probably won't get a second offer. Guests sometimes ask for what they need themselves.

On the dining table, people

  • Don't use hands to touch food;
  • Don't use teeth to cut food, even noodles;
  • May suggest others to try a certain food, but will not put any food into some else's plate using their own spoon, folk, etc.
  • When trying to get something far away, will ask the person close to it to pass it over. Will not reach out to get it unless there is nobody closer to it.

Americans need more "breathing room" than Chinese. People tend to keep some space between each other. If you are waiting in line, you will make the other person very uncomfortable if you stand too close to him or her. If somebody is blocking the way, in China, people tend to squeeze through. In here, people always say "excuse me" first to signal the other person to give enough space before they comfortably walk through.

Americans focus more on playing than on eating. They like partying, hiking, mountain climbing, boating, scuba diving(潜到海底), or even bungee jumping. At parties, they usually play loud music, drink beer, and have snacks. When they travel to somewhere, they may take a few pictures, but they focus much more on doing things there, such as camping, hiking, kayaking(划一种细长, 紧贴身的小船), etc.

Donating is a good habit of people in this country. Even though people pay a lot of taxes to the government, they still donate money or time for people who need help. One reason this is necessary is that people who volunteer to help will do a much better job than government employees.

 
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