Over the past few months as I have obsessed over the upcoming election in the United States, I have been surprised by the responses that I have received. Repeatedly, people have told me some variation of, “Well at least you get to vote and leave” or “Well, you won’t have to deal with the outcome either way,” as if my stake in the future of this country is somehow less significant because I will be living and working outside of it. As a representative of the United States abroad, I completely reject this assumption. Moving abroad is not an abandoning of my country but an expansion of my worldview. My interest in the future of this country is not diminished by my absence.
As I attempt to share my language and culture with my Thai students in my unmistakably American accent, I am not only representing myself but my country, and I am acutely aware of this responsibility. For many of the people I will encounter, I will be their example of American culture and a reflection of our government. I am thrilled for the opportunity to experience Thailand and engage in a meaningful interchange of cultures. I am eager to meet people from entirely different backgrounds from my own, to make connections and build relationships, and I will be doing so as a representative of the United States. I will learn, and I will gain perspective. I’m sure I will change irreversibly. I may leave U.S. soil, but I am still an American with a passion for the wellbeing of my country.
I am tremendously grateful for the chance to vote for the country that I love, for the country that I want so much for. If you are a citizen of the United States and have not already, vote, for this election will shape the America that you come home to, the country that you symbolize everywhere you go.