The Election Abroad

I am not one for political statements on social media. I enjoy discussing politics and policy with people in person, but I rarely participate on social media. I worry that I will write the wrong thing, insult someone I did not mean to offend, and immortalize words that I will not necessarily agree with or wish I had said in a different way.

But usually the people around me agree with me and I usually don’t have to justify my beliefs and reasonings with my friends and family. I don’t have a wide range of political beliefs on my social media pages and most of my current Facebook feed is heartfelt notes, petitions, and Facebook groups attempting to console and create space for grief.

However, I am in a unique position that most of my family and friends are not in. I am an American living abroad. I am living in a place with few Americans and where the Americans here are young and liberal. Though Donald Trump’s election will and already has affected the entire world, here in my small world of Nan, nothing has changed. A few teachers have come up to me to attempt to discuss the election and a few have expressed sympathies, but daily life continues and people’s lives here will go on. It is not devastating to them and it should not be.

During my school day on Wednesday (because it was mid-Wednesday for me when the announcement came) I was noticeably upset. I put on a movie for my students and sat in the back corner of the classroom. Students came up to me saying “Mai Sabai” meaning “Not good,” asking if I was ok. I had coworkers who had to leave class as they told their students of the outcome of our election. We were upset. The Nan farong community had a shock just as many of my family and friends did as well.

But my immediate reaction, while valid, was not necessarily fair to my students. I am here to teach them English and teach them small bits about America, but I am not here to instill my own political beliefs as I see fit. My students now know that I was extremely upset about the election and I was not able to be bipartisan as the results came in. Maybe I am being hard on myself and I have every right to my feelings, but I think my students also have the right to form their own opinions, even if they are only 8 years old.


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