Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Guest Post: Inaguration as an Expat

Joy Nedved currently resides in Amsterdam with her husband David. Before the global recession she worked for a local newspaper as a pub critic. Now she spends much of her time volunteering for the Amercian Women's Club of Amsterdam. She has graciously agreed to share her reflections on Obama's inauguration as seen from outside America. Oh, and she's my sister!

Living abroad has in many ways made me more appreciative of my homeland and at other times more chagrin, especially in social settings. Those of us living abroad found ourselves at dinner parties defending a president (Bush) and foreign policy that we neither voted for nor agreed upon during the pause between the aperitif course and first course. By the dessert course most of us were passing on the chocolate tart and asking for another glass of port. I don't even like port. Yet, six months ago the tenor of these parties changed, everyone wanted to know about Obama. Was it possible for the US to elect an African American president? No way, everyone exclaimed but secretly hoped. 90 percent of the Dutch population polled said that they would have voted for Obama if given the chance. The Dutch public broadcaster NPS devoted 8 hour long shows devoted to him in the 2 weeks before election night. There were at least 5 different "official" sold out election night parties where expats from all of the world stayed up until 6:00 am AMS time just to hear Obama's acceptance speech.

Hearing people sing, "I'm proud to be an American" in heavily accented voices will always bring a tear to my eye. Seeing non-Americans on Inauguration night holding the American flag and singing, "Simply the Best, America's better than all the rest" made my heart burst with patriotic pride. Is Obama the end all and be all of a New America? I don't know and right know I don't care because you see, here on this side of the Atlantic, We have Obamamania! This uninhibited media enthusiasm for an American president is a far cry from the coverage of the last 2 years of the Bush administration. Granted there was a lot to gripe about, Iraq, Iran, Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib- but somewhere along the way, the over sees anti-Bush attitude crossed over into the a more generalized anti-Americanism. We became a symbol of the big steroid bully picking on smaller, underdeveloped countries. Yet now. With this election people are starting to see America in a different perhaps more realistic light. Not that of an aggressive bully but as a protective brother willing to flex muscle but also willing to sit down and talk about disputes. As witnessed by Obama's first official phone call abroad to Palestinian President Abbas. This single yet important act proved to people that here is an American president willing to sit down and open up dialogue with his adversaries. It reminded people from all over the world that America is the land of free will, democracy and that all things are possible…this is the America that I'm proud of and will gladly discuss at the next dinner party sans the port.

Please contact me if you are interested in a guest post.

1 comment:

  1. There are only two things I hate: People who are intolerant of other people's nationalities, and the Dutch!


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