I have always believed that politics are very important, but for the most part are one’s own opinion and never really put much effort into the topic. However, I quickly learned that when you are from America, everyone wants to know your opinion on President Obama. The first couple of times I was asked, I quite honestly had no clue how to respond! I was not used to talking about politics ( I usually stick to talking about biology or other closely related topics) let alone sharing opinions so openly. I quickly learned how many people view America, and how different it is from how I personally view our politics. As the election came closer everyone (Ecuadorian and otherwise) wanted to hear all about how I was to vote and how I felt about the current topics! This was very strange to me, but i now understand how important our politics are to the rest of the world. One day at school a friend of mine from Germany asked how I thought the Presidential Debate went the night before, as he had watched it and wanted my “American opinion”, any the only response I had was that I didn’t watch it. This bothered me quite a bit, that a person from another country who couldn’t vote one way or another still listened and cared about the debate, yet I could vote, but didn’t take the time to hear what President Obama and Senator Romney had to say. Needless to say from that point on I made a special effort to keep myself informed as best as I could from outside the country, which was actually easier than I expected thanks to technology. After the election the questions kept coming, and I’ll have to say it was very eye opening to view the election from here, especially without all of the political commercials.
Three weeks ago I had my last “Grammar” class and had a week of vacation then started my Culture and Civilization class. Even though grammar classes are very necessary in learning a language, I think I have learned more in these last two weeks than I ever thought possible. Each day we start out talking about current events from our own countries and also Ecuadorian news. I absolutely love learning about how the government has changed throughout the years and the different impacts past presidents have had. Some very good others very bad, but overall I am very grateful that we have a strong government that works together with the people, even though sometimes it might not seem that way. One day our class took a trip to the National Assembly, which is open to the public, to view Ecuadorian legislation. I was absolutely shocked, because it was nothing like I expected. I expected to see orderly debates and discussions over the new possible law, with lots of participation from all of the members similar to the image in my head of what an assembly looks like, but it was almost the exact opposite. Later our professor told us that the National Assembly is composed of members elected by popular vote, but don’t necessarily have a political background, some are soccer players, models, TV hosts etc. Which makes sense as the people vote for the people they know, however, this doesn’t really improve the situation. There will be a presidential election in February to reelect President Correa or to elect a new president. This provides many interesting discussion topics and is very important to the people, also because here it is MANDATORY to vote, not just an option. In the months to come there will be many public appearances and debates to gain votes, but not in the same way the United States candidates campaign. There are around 6 major parties that will either group together to support a candidate or have their own, which is very different from our 2 party system.
I still have a lot to learn about politics, but along the way I am learning the importance of being informed even if things don’t go the way we think they should. We are very lucky to have the freedoms and systems that we do and I know I will definitely pay more attention to national events when I get back home.
I stumbled upon this quote and now realize how incredibly true it is.
“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”
― Terry Pratchett