Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Overseas Vote

With regard to the US presidential election: I can't speak for the Korean man-on-the street, but our kids are overwhelmingly pro-Obama. I had the electoral map running on my SmartBoard each period when they came into class, and after the obligatory minute to figure out what on Earth the electoral college map says about anything, they cheered when they found out Obama was up.

This could be generational - young people around the world seem to be strongly pro-Obama, so maybe it's age as the determining factor instead of here. And I didn't really notice a difference between our Korean and non-Korean students' reactions - except perhaps some extra excitement from an African student.

But in any case, it's interesting because, as Justin posted earlier, Korean attitudes on Korean mixed-race individuals can be pretty closed-minded (until 2006, mixed-race Koreans were barred from serving in the military; even now, I think, they are exempt from the draft). 2006 was, not coincidentally, right after the Super Bowl when Hines Ward took MVP. So if his success in sports helped bring down barriers here, could Obama's victory presage anything for Korea? My guess is not with adults. Obama, unlike Ward, is not part-Korean, so I doubt his story will be seen as relevant. But seeing the kids respond like this (we had clapping and dancing) suggests that change may be coming generationally. It's encouraging, and I hope our students will remember this when they become the generation in political power, but I realize that for some people, it's a long time to wait.

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