Irish Teen Takes a Stand Against Cultural Stereotyping in Her New American High School

An Irish expat received over 16,200 reactions and more than 2,100 comments on social media for her story about being stereotyped when she moved to the US and felt she was treated like a “show pony” by the teacher.

The original poster (OP), a 16-year-old female, had recently moved from Dublin, Ireland, to a small town in the South of the United States.

Her parents had found better work opportunities than what they had been offered back home, but unfortunately, she didn’t really want to be there, missing the family and friends they had left behind in Dublin.

The Irish Stereotype

As soon as OP entered her new high school, classmates began asking her stereotypical questions about life in Ireland.

OP found herself rolling her eyes at silly questions such as “Have you ever seen a leprechaun?” and “Do you all live in little stone cottages and wear buckled shoes?”

Her appearance also oozed the stereotypical look; she had red hair, freckles, and pale skin, with a thick Irish accent to top it all off. She said many people had requested quotes from the Lucky Charms mascot or the character from Austin Powers.

When it came time for a history class that focused on international cultures, the teacher asked OP to share about Ireland. Feeling as though she was being used as a “show pony,” OP refused to agree with the request.

Why Did She Refuse?

According to OP on social media, “My culture, my country, is not some display to be touted out like this… We’re not stuck in the 1700s farming sheep and sh**; we have cities and internet and health care, and we’re a fully evolved society. It isn’t my job to teach her class.”

Because of this, the school wanted to have a meeting with OP and her parents concerning her well-being.

As part of OP’s defense, she claimed that when another student moved there three years prior from Mexico, the teacher hadn’t asked them to participate in such cultural sharing.

OP felt slighted by the teacher’s actions and questioned if she was wrong for not wanting to be used in such a way. It seemed like she was being unfairly treated because of her nationality.

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Reactions on Social Media

One Irish person who was in a similar situation could relate. “They’re uncultured and don’t even realize it,” they admitted. “But this is your time to show them what Ireland is really like. And dispel their small world view.”

“You should just do a presentation on how good free healthcare is,” another person wrote.

“And the lack of school shootings. Then onto how they’re flag shaggers and the weird pledge of allegiance,” another person commented.

Another expat could relate. “I wish you luck. People stereotyping your home country, whether in a good or bad light, must be the most annoying thing about being an expat.”

One teacher shared her advice. ” I recommend you tell the teacher/administrator exactly what you put here… that others have been unkind because of your heritage,” they said. “And then apologize for being rude to the teacher.”

“Tell her that when she asked you to participate, all that other stuff was going through your head, and you want to be seen by your classmates as more than just the Irish girl.”

This article, Irish Expat Felt Like a “Show Pony” in the US: Was She Wrong For Refusing to Share Her Culture? was produced and syndicated by TPR Teaching. Our article has been inspired by Reddit and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of TPR Teaching.

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Caitriona Maria is an education writer and founder of TPR Teaching, crafting inspiring pieces that promote the importance of developing new skills. For 7 years, she has been committed to providing students with the best learning opportunities possible, both domestically and abroad. Dedicated to unlocking students' potential, Caitriona has taught English in several countries and continues to explore new cultures through her travels.

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Mount Shrine
Mount Shrine
10 months ago

The fact that a Shutterstock image was used above makes me question the validity of this entire story.