Juniors Studying Abroad Report on World's Reactions to Obama
NORTHAMPTON, Mass. – A
bout with the flu confined Smith junior Jahleese Ladson
to her bed in Germany on Election Day, thousands
of miles away from her home in New York City, but that
did not stop her from following the moment-to-moment events.
Jahleese Ladson reports from Hamburg.
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Like many of her classmates
studying in various time zones around the globe, the junior
learned that Sen. Barack Obama would become the nation’s
44th president and the first African American to hold that
office through an international
“The political moves of the U.S. usually have far-reaching
effects in the world so many people were rightly concerned
about the election,” said Ladson via email from Hamburg
on Nov. 5, at 8:30 p.m.—2:30 p.m. in Northampton. “However,
this election was of special interest because of the trials
America has been experiencing as of late.”
In the months before the
historic 2008 presidential election, the news media widely
detailed the enormity of the trials that will face the
next president—namely two wars and
an economic crisis that has spread around the world. Roughly
half of Smith’s junior class has followed the coverage
from abroad; they are in enrolled in programs in Africa,
Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the South Pacific.
The news of Obama’s win was “all over” the
Dutch news Nov. 5, according to Nicole Vetter, Smith anthropology
and film studies major studying in the Netherlands.
Nicole Vetter follows
the election in Caferoos, Amsterdam.
“It is all people have been talking about since I’ve
been here,” said Vetter. “I’ve never had
so many people explicitly ask me who I’m voting for.
It really seems like this was the last straw for the United
States to redeem itself in the eyes of the international
Periodicals in Spain featured
images of Obama and slain civil rights leader Martin Luther
King Jr., reported Julia Learned, who is studying in Barcelona,
where interest in the election, even among the youngest
citizenry, was also evident. The Smith double major in
English and Spanish noted that she felt “really ignorant” when
a 5-year-old Spanish boy asked her on Nov. 5 by how much
Obama had won.
“There is a ton of interest,” said Learned,
who learned about Obama’s win at an Irish bar in Barcelona. “Everyone
that I teach has congratulated me.”
Julia Learned on
the Seine River.
While they missed the chance to vote in person this election,
whether in Massachusetts or their home state, the juniors
studying abroad did not pass up the opportunity to vote by
absentee ballot. Ladson mailed her ballot a week prior to
the election; Learned and Vetter some three weeks before.
On Election Day, Vetter bicycled all over Amsterdam trying
to find a public location to watch the televised election
coverage before giving up and watching it on her computer.
Obama was announced the winner over Republican candidate
John McCain at about 6:30 p.m. Amsterdam time, she said.
The image of revelers
taking to the streets in New York’s
Time Square was mirrored in Amsterdam, Vetter added.
“In some areas people were running around the streets
yelling and carrying on,” she said. “Everyone
slept soundly that night…they are as pleased as punch.”