It is Saturday morning, and I am watching the recast of the Presidential Debate on CNN. Embarassingly, I only registered to vote abroad this summer. I can't believe that I waited 6 years. I blame part of it on laziness, part on not getting it, and part on just not being educated enough to really take interest in politics.
I moved to Germany less than one year after graduating college. Growing up, I was taught not to talk about politics, which also bred indifference in my mind. My college, while I abosolutely loved it, did little to expand my mind in terms of our country and its function in the world. The values I did learn from Loyola were more locally focused, that our community needs us.
When I moved, I was upset that we were unable to get a Greencard, which tainted my view. The move also exposed me to the world-view of America. It was far different than I had understood. Eight months after moving here, I also got a job on a military base. I was thrown into a military community, a group about which I knew dreadfully nothing. I also had to do classroom support in two 8th grade US History classes, for which I will be forever thankful. Although I did well in 8th grade US History the first time, I don't believe a 13 year-old is able to make the important connections through wich history actually teaches us the lessons far beyond facts.
Looking back on my 6 years here, and the lessons I have learned, I can see that my view of my home country has changed incredibly. I guess it would start with my patriotism. I have become incredibly patriotic. My eyes tear up when I hear the Star-Spangled Banner, and my heart swells when I see the flag. Our apartment has a growing amount of patriotic paraphalia. You can see that I have gone from desperately trying to not stick out to someone who is quite proud to show that I am a foreigner here, proud of my home. I am proud of our military, and my heart breaks when I think about all the soliders who are deployed. I don't think the war in Iraq would have been of any concern to me had I never left the States. Now, I find my mind thinking about the war daily, and sending thoughts to all those soliders and their families that they will have a safe return. If I hadn't moved overseas, I am sure my primary concern now would be the price of oil, or anything which directly impacted me.
I have also learned the key role our country plays in the world. I do think that too many Americans don't know, and don't care, about the rest of the world. It turns out that we play a very important role in all world aspects. It is important that we maintain strong diplomacy. We do not realize that is is necessary that countries have a good impression of us. To quote my mom, you really do get more bees with honey. Too often I hear from others, "they don't like us anyway, who cares?" But, I have come to see that it really matters.
I am really excited to vote in this election. I am also eagerly reading about candidates and their policies. I am so glad I watched this debate, and am anticipating watching the next ones. I want for the country that we make the right choices not only in the next president, but in the direction in which we go. We are a world leader, and I want us to remain that way. I don't think its impossible, I just think more people need to care.