Saturday, November 15, 2008

US Presidential Election in Beijing (Judy)

Like millions of expatriate Americans, we cast our absentee ballots. Rick mailed his off weeks before the election, but I delayed sending in my ballot so that I could show it to my classes. Several students took the time to study the ballot and ask terrific questions about why we were voting for “electors” rather than just voting. They found the ballot questions a puzzling concept. But this delay meant a last minute, rushed trip to Federal Express to assure that the ballot arrived on time. Fri. Oct. 31st I tracked down a FedEx office in Haidian, the district in which we live. A bus ride, a walk, asking 3 strangers to help me call FedEx and a mere 2 hours later I arrived at the FedEx store. The young FedEx clerk was curious about the absentee ballots and showed me another envelope ready to send off. She was wondering if it were going to the same place. No – my ballot was going to Massachusetts, that one to Minnesota. But as I stare at a thousand Chinese characters, overwhelmed and confused by what they all mean, her question now seems quite reasonable.

On Wed. Nov. 5th we attended an election party sponsored by the US Embassy. Along with about 800 other people we gathered at the Renaissance Hotel to watch the returns on CNN. Unlike the US, our gathering was from 8 am – 1:30 pm. They held a mock election and this was an Obama crowd, so cheers erupted when Pennsylvania went for Obama, and an even louder cheer went up when it was called. A few tears were shed in that room.

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