The U.S. election and Indonesian Obamalove

It’s no surprise that Barack Obama’s childhood connection to Indonesia means that Indonesians feel a special affinity for the president. Indonesians boisterously celebrated Obama’s re-election in November, and several Fulbright English Teaching Assistants joined in the festivites.

Medan Polonia1CB“On Election Day, two students and I attended a party held by the U.S. Consulate in Medan. Guests watched election returns from CNN, listened to presentations about American democracy, and voted in a mock election. Obama won the mock election in a landslide — not surprising, given Indonesia’s famous love of the American president. After CNN called the election, my students and I took this picture to celebrate.”
– Catherine Brist | Medan, North Sumatera

IMG_3071“As someone who was involved with political campaigns throughout college, it was strange to witness the election from the outside. My own election experience this year would not have happened without the help of my colleagues at SMAN 1 Krian, who truly went above and beyond in supporting my right to vote. They helped me track down a scanner to apply for my absentee ballot and let me use school resources to print my ballot. They took time out of their schedules to make the long drive to the U.S. Consulate in Surabaya, so I could be confident that my ballot would make it to Michigan. I was so touched, that I almost cried. The highlight had to be my teachers exuberantly chanting ‘Obama! Obama!’ on Election Day, especially as they peered over my shoulder to check the election results.”
– Nina Bhattacharya | Krian, East Java

Medan Polonia-20121106-00058“I’ve seen a lot of warungs named after famous people in Medan, but this ‘Barak Obama’ bakso stand is by far my favorite. Indonesians love to tell me that President Obama likes to eat bakso, the famous Indonesian meatball soup.”
– Catherine Brist | Medan, North Sumatera

“I had to teach when the election results were trickling in, but I talked to some teachers at my school about making the day’s classes into a cultural learning experience, and they thankfully obliged. I invited my classes over to my small house on campus, where we watched the returns roll in as my site partner, Annalisa, and I explained the less frustrating aspects of America’s electoral college. During my 4th-period class, CNN called the election for Obama, and the students erupted in cheers. The class boasted several school cheerleaders, who began chanting an updated fight song on Obama’s behalf: ‘We got an O-B-A-M-A. Go, Obama, go, go Obama!'”
Dustin Volz | Palembang, South Sumatra


“It may have been 1:00 a.m. on the east coast, but it was 1:00 p.m. in Indonesia. Watching Barry’s acceptance speech after class.”
– Jordan Farrer | Pontianak, West Kalimantan

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