One of the reasons I began my Fulbright grant in November instead of August or September like many of my peers, is that I wanted to vote in the U.S. election. “But you can vote by absentee ballot!” some
people told me. “No, not in this election, I want to vote in person and be there for the results, this is history in the making” I would reply.
As I watched the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States on a small television in a hotel in northern Uganda, I was filled with a mix of emotions- pride, excitement, joy, and a touch of sadness that I couldn’t be in Washington to witness it firsthand. After living in DC for more than four years, I felt some nostalgia at being thousands of miles away while one of the most historic moments our country has ever witnessed was taking place in the city I once called home. It made me cherish even more my memories of voting in person during this election and later celebrating in front of the White House.
The day after the inauguration I saw a 14-year old boy, who is part of Breakdance Project Uganda, reading a local newspaper that had a big picture of President Obama on the front page. I pointed to that picture and said with a huge smile “That’s my President!” He looked at me, smiled and said “That’s my President, too!” and we both laughed.
Ugandans, like many throughout the world, are amazed and excited by the Obama presidency. There were inauguration watch parties throughout the country, Obama calendars and t-shirts are being sold on street corners, and restaurants have been named after our new President. As an American living abroad, it feels good to have a President that is liked and respected by others.
While I would love to have been in DC to witness firsthand the inauguration of President Barack Obama, the ability to experience the enthusiasm and excitement that Ugandans and people worldwide feel about this new beginning, is a memory that I will also always cherish.