"Yesterday, we at MPIE spent one of the most historic days of our country's history well outside of its borders. Not only was the first African American U.S. president being sworn in, but the event marked the first real change in U.S. leadership during our politically conscious lives. The last time George W. Bush was not our president, I was 15 and way more preoccupied with tennis practice and geometry than foreign affairs and taxes. This particular shift, however, we have been following with scrutiny, from reading daily articles online to organizing and attending debate watching parties in Quito. Yesterday was significant in that we were all extremely aware of what this shift in power meant for us and for our country.
Dunc, Serena, Dana, Eliah, Mark, and I were able to go to a gringo restaurant in the Mariscal to watch the swearing in ceremony. It was PACKED with Americans. Even though most of us didn't know each other, a sense of unity and pride pulsed throughout the room as we listened to the resonation of Aretha Franklin's "America the Beautiful" and watched politically significant figures from both parties walk the grounds of Washington together, side by side.
I thought about how there must be pockets of U.S. ex-pats literally all around the world just like us, experiencing the same thing so far from home, and that even though I had no idea who or where these people were, we all have one thing in common.
Coming from such an amazing country makes experiences abroad even more special than they would be otherwise, because we feel secure that no matter where we go or what we desire to see, America the Beautiful will still be there waiting for us when we choose to return. And that though things do change, the values that our country is built upon, and the people within it, remain steady. Because of this, the American dream stretches to all ends of the Earth as its citizens venture out to try to make a difference beyond its borders and to experience new and exciting things.
If you know where you come from, you know where you have potential to go. I know for a fact that where I come from has directly influenced the things I have been able to do here in our little community south of the equator. Our programs and projects are a direct reflection of the ideals instilled in us by the United States, and by all of our supporters back home. Yup, that means you : )