Ellen Esterhay Photograph


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Voting Day (for me, at least!)

October 8, 2012   

Today I participated in my first ever presidential election.


In a way, voting by way of absentee ballot was not as exciting as going to an actual voting booth and getting the sticker and all that…but then again, my experience today was much more unique. For starters, it amazes me how many Americans in my program here are not voting. Or else say that they keep "meaning" to but then forget. Even if I wanted to forget, I couldn't, in no small part because I am on the Hamilton Democrats mailing list and I keep getting email after email about the election.

Living in a country where people don't have the right to vote has made me want to participate in the election process even more. It is interesting to hear my teachers' and other Chinese students' perspectives on voting. Some seem a little envious that we have that right, perhaps - but most don't really seem to care too much.  It wasn't really until after living in China that I began to understand what a great thing being able to express one's own opinion is, whether it is through voting or some other means.

So filling out my ballot today was an unusual experience, to say the least. I  was standing in a Chinese post office, had just put my ballot in a Chinese envelope which I could only buy after fighting my way to front of the line (that is another cultural difference - the Chinese will rarely stand and wait in line. If ever.) and was writing my return address in Chinese characters. I was also surrounded by people who will probably never vote once in their entire lives. I don't want to start getting overly dramatic or anything, but…today, I was really proud to be an American.