I haven’t sat down to write anything substantial regarding the current political situation in my country because I felt like I had nothing new to add, nor something different that hasn’t been said. But I realized that I do have a perspective that I haven’t seen shared- that of the American abroad.
My work and travels have me interacting with people from all over the world. I was working in Hong Kong as the election came to a close and Trump was voted President-elect. Within the next two months, I traveled to Thailand, the Philippines, and am now working in Australia. I’ve met not only locals in these communities, but also immigrants and world travelers. All these varied people, from diverse cultures would eventually ask me, the American, the same question- How do you feel about Trump?
There was never an accusatory tone. I only encountered curiosity and confusion. Their initial question would inevitably be followed by “how could such a man be elected? Why would people vote for him?” As someone who is vehemently against the man, I would do my best to explain the struggles and arguments of his supporters. But still the question persists — how could people let Donald Trump be the president of the United States?
I’ve spent a lot of time the past few months explaining the hopes and fears of people on all sides of the situation. And I’ve listened to non-US citizen after non-US citizen express bewilderment at what is happening in the States.
Despite what politicians and pundits will tell you, the United States is a leading global superpower. We are leaders in policy, economics, and, perhaps most importantly, culture. Students in Hong Kong study our elections but not their local ones. People worldwide depend on our economic stability to ensure their own. Television networks even broadcast American programming rather than supporting local television. I would not be surprised if the average global citizen is more informed of our politics than the average US citizen.
With the rest of the world, I watched my friends march. The images that came out of the Women’s March made me swell with pride. Yes, it wasn’t perfect, but MILLIONS of people showed up in protest over what Donald Trump stands for. And while we have a lot to learn about white supremacy, the Women’s March was undoubtedly a hopeful start to Trump’s presidency.
My heart felt sick I couldn’t be there. I found out Saturday night a Women’s March took place in Melbourne (very close to where I am working now). I still feel the disappointment in myself rise for not even thinking to check if a march was happening here.
Let me be clear about one thing. I find all the “Whelp, time to move to Canada” comments, whether they’re joking or not, insulting. As an American Woman, I ache to be home right now. I ache to fight the good fight.
Thankfully, I have incredibly inspiring, intelligent, and politically-aware friends. Friends who encourage others to call senators, to participate in the , who share legitimate causes and charities to donate to. Because these are things I can do. I can wake up 30 minutes early and plead with senators to vote against Betsy Devos. I can take time to write my senators, asking them to support healthcare for all and to protect the environment. I can donate money to a women’s health clinic. Maybe I’m not completely useless in this fight, even if I’m on the other side of the globe.
So my dear fellow Americans, please join me to make our country the land of the proud, strong, and compassionate. Go to protests. Wear those Black Lives Matter and Nasty Women t-shirts. Volunteer. Lobby. Sign petitions. Create petitions. Tell that child she is loved. Start a conversation, face to face, with someone who is across the divide. Live a daily life that propels us towards the America we wish to become. Know I am rooting for you from across the sea.