I remember in 2002, when I backpacked throughout Europe and studied abroad in Rome, Italy, giant PACE (peace) flags, the color of a rainbow, hung from almost every apartment window. In 2004, I lived in Perth, Australia for a year long exchange, and watched from abroad as Bush was re-elected for a second term, the weeks after which, I felt more heat and ridicule of “being an American”. In 2005, I travelled in South America for two months; my mom wanted me to sew a Canadian flag to my backpack and tell people I was from Vancouver. For the past six years that I have been travelling abroad, being an American has not been a comfortable or exciting identity to hold. Usually I get the “I’m sorry for you” look, or the “I hate Bush” comment, which for me has been okay since I agree.
This year, however, as I spent 8 months travelling around the world, there was a new feel to being an American. In fact, it was exciting to say that I was from the USA. My thoughts about the upcoming election was the first thing asked by foreigners and locals once they found out I was American. Instead of the “boo, another stupid American” glance, it was a look of excitement, “What do you think about Obama and McCain? Who do you want to win!”
“OBAMA!” I would exclaim. 98% of whom I talked to would smile back at me, their eyes lit up as they shouted, “Yes! Me too!”
It was refreshing that foreigners weren’t trying to talk to me about the war in Iraq or the IQ level of my President, instead they were looking to the future of America and the changes that would hopefully take place witha new president. Obama has quite the feat of obstacles ahead of him. He is only one man. He is not perfect. But, he is a change. He is hope for America and the international community alike.
With Barack Obama being elected as the United State’s 44th President, I finally feel great about proclaiming to the international community that, “I am American!”
And thank goodness…it’s about time.