Working among many international teachers, administrators, staff and families I was surprised that everyone seemed to know what was happening in American politics-sometimes more than I did. I learned that the world pays very close attention to the USA. I think it is safe to say that most people hold on to the hope that the USA will make the “right” decision on all kinds of issues. The United States provides a beacon of hope for freedom for many in the world.
While in Turkey, I thought of myself as an American ambassador: diplomatic, hardworking, respectful and honest. I was always aware of this and it caused me to be more careful in my actions and in my speech. I wanted to represent my country well. But sometimes I became upset and embarrassed about the news coming out of the USA. My Colombian friend used to laugh when I’d ask her to explain, once again, why I shouldn’t be angry over some of my country’s decisions. Time and time again she told me that she loved the USA. She explained that because of the USA, her country had made great strides over many years and was finally doing well. From her perspective, her native country was beginning to be recognized and respected around the world. She owed it all to the USA. This friend helped me see the USA from a different vantage point than my own. Because many of my global friends kept current with American politics, I became aware of the USA through their eyes, whether they saw “us” as the good, the bad or the ugly.
With all this in mind, I recently attended an artist talk at the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas, Texas. American artist, Kathryn Andrews, currently has an exhibition there called “Kathryn Andrews: Run for President“. Since my repatriation I’ve been stunned at the political arena surrounding this Presidential election. I’ve also been surprised to learn that my foreign friends are watching and wondering, with keen interest, who will be the next President of the United States. For me, I’ve been somewhat embarrassed as I try to answer their questions. When I walked into Andrews’ exhibition, I saw symbols that perfectly explained what I’d been thinking about this election season. Andrews investigates relationships between popular culture and power structures. There is a direct connection between politics, race and celebrity. The reality of this election season specifically comes to life through her artwork.
How might the results of this Presidential election affect you, as a teacher, in an international school? I hope you are paying attention because you will be asked questions from your soon-to-be- foreign friends.
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