Letter to the Editor: From an American abroad

By Julia Boharski | November 11, 2016 10:22am

The night of Nov. 8 and into the morning of Nov. 9, a group of us gathered for the screening of the United States Presidential election. And in all honesty, we agreed it wasn’t the most fun sleepover we’ve ever been to.

At 5:36 a.m., we heard the four words, “Florida just got called.”

Twenty-three hours before this I started the day, Nov. 8, with many other worries on my mind. It wasn’t until my host mother asked if I was ready to have a new president that the importance of this day washed over me for the first time.

The topic of the presidential candidacy is one I have talked about every single day since arriving to France. The first conversation I’d had with my host family about this election forced me to truly see this was not just America’s election. The future president would have a global effect far bigger than I think any one of us can conceive.

Throughout the night, I felt how strongly the physical displacement of not being in America confronted me. To be distinguished as an American, to associate with the complexity of the American identity and the significance of one’s own nationality, yet to not be in the U.S. at a moment like this was perplexing.

A few days after the election, I’ve come to realize that the America we have before us is radically new for all, regardless of one’s physical location.

To all of us in that room at 5:36 a.m., Nov. 9, 2016, America’s fate had been more or less determined. A social media post we came across read: “Thank goodness the difficulty with the election is over.” It was then I understood the challenge our nation faces. The difficulty is not over. It is only just beginning.

In my very short and privileged twenty years of life, I now more than ever see the depth in the lines of a divided nation.

After gaining few insights into the foreign perspective while being an American abroad during this time, I think it is gravely important to look to the words of Rupi Kaur who writes:

“to hate

is an easy lazy thing

but to love

takes strength

everyone has

but not all are

willing to practice.”

To call our U.S. united and to be the collective “American people” to me means we all must summon our strength, give love and wholeheartedly respect one another rather than allowing negative attitudes and misconceptions to dictate our behavior.

Looking toward the future, I see how much can happen in one day, more so what can happen in a matter of hours. Those students and I were changed by those four words on that early, historic morning. There were four other words that have changed me and I believe every one of us has the power to practice.

“To love takes strength.” And with this kind of love, we have the ability to make our nation strong.

Julia Boharksi is a junior French and English major and can be reached at boharski18@up.edu.