Barack and Roll

(Today's guest blog comes from Jocelyn Lancaster, and is a rumination on home and hope, change and pride. Enjoy!)

"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 : )


(keeping up to date with inauguration day online)

Si se puede...

Tonight, as we watched history unfold in a little bar named Mulligan's, in the middle of Quito, thousands of miles away from the places we sent our absentee ballots, none of us could hide our smiles or our tears as we joined with Ecuadorians in adding our voices to Obama's refrain, "Yes we can"... "Si, se puede."

"...we've been warned against offering people of this nation false hope. But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope."

When the cat is away...

The mice will work on Saturday at our second Minga.

That was my weak attempt at a joke, trying to scare Mark (who is currently on a plane back to the states) into thinking all we're going to do for the next week is sit around feeding each other pineapple on our roof. He'll be gone for the next week, but honestly things are picking up so quickly down here that we really won't have much of a chance to even pretend to slack off in his absence :)

This post is late in coming today because we just got back from Quito, where we watched the Vice Presidential debate between Governor Palin and Senator Biden. Disclaimer: I promise I won't use the daily life blog as some kind of political platform from which to spew my ideas, unless those ideas include the establishment of a mandatory dessert hour. While we were all nervous (and some of us a little too eager) to watch Palin after having youtubed her interview with Katie Couric many times, overall both candidates presented their platforms in respectable manners. Which platform is respectable in its own right I'll leave up to you to decide for yourself.

I write about this because, for the first time in our lives, we’re experiencing a presidential election while not actually living in the States. Granted, most (all?) of us have only been able to vote in one prior presidential election, so a precedent hasn’t really been established. Yet it is incredible how passionate we’re all feeling about the whole deal. It’s as if the distance has made us even more involved, wanting so badly to taste the electoral anticipation and read as many articles and editorials as we can, to keep track of our state’s polls and to find key policy pieces which tie us to certain candidates. Maybe every young person experiences this as they become more aware of the scope of elections, but this time around it just feels different; fresher, bigger, closer. And that, written from south of the Equator, is truly saying something.


(colors in our curtains)