A Citizen’s Guide to Greece 2015


October 7, 2016

The world is watching

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Written by: Politis

dc-medallionBy Lydia Richards

I am a study abroad student and a Dukakis Center intern at the American College of Thessaloniki (ACT) from the US, where I attend the University of Northern Iowa and major in flute performance. At ACT, I am taking several International Relations classes. As someone who has not spent a great deal of time formally studying international relations and political science before this semester, I believe I have a more raw, unique perspective into the world of IR and politics. My curiosity about IR stems from a great interest in people and intercultural dynamic, especially the mechanics of globalization and the trickle-down impact that IR has on everyday life.

I recently attended a Dukakis Center round table on “Voting in America” at the US Consulate General in Thessaloniki. The discussion featured Michael Ertel, an election official in Seminole County, Florida, Charles Stewart III, professor of political science at MIT, and Rebecca Fong, US Consul General. Each gave a short presentation on different facets of US election protocol, answering audience questions along the way. The event was well put together, with tremendously insightful speakers, truly experts in their fields.

I rode back to campus from the “Voting in America” round table with a fellow intern and classmate who is originally from Albania. I remarked to him that I found it very interesting that the American political process was (and is) of interest to those outside of the US. He looked at me kind of blankly and said, “Lydia, of course it is important, of course it matters. It affects everything.” I have since thought about this conversation a lot, reflecting on the truth behind it.

This conversation is indicative of my experience in Greece as a whole. I have often been struck, especially during my classes, by the general interest in US politics, and particularly the upcoming presidential election, that I have encountered from the people around me. Nearly all of my classes have spent time discussing Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. My professors, but more surprisingly to me my classmates, are well versed in the platforms of the Republican and Democrat parties, the campaigns of the candidates and the impact the election of either would have on world politics and IR. I am quickly realizing that prior to my time here at ACT, I did not have a concept of just how important US politics are to the rest of the world. Decisions made in Washington DC, for better or worse, have significant impacts in every corner of the globe. US support or disapproval of a military action, environmental regulation, economic policy, or humanitarian aid is felt around the world.

According to CNN, over eighty million people across the world tuned in for the first debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Eighty million. Similarly, Reuters says that over thirty five million people worldwide tuned in for the vice presidential debate.

These numbers are a clear indicator that the entire world is watching, and waiting, for the results of Tuesday, November 8. Americans are not the only ones who have a stake in the 2016 elections. As I think about the strategic importance of this election, I am reminded of a quote from the “Spiderman” comics and Peter Parker’s wise Uncle Ben: ”With great power comes great responsibility”. We have a tremendous responsibility to cast a vote in this election and we have an audience while doing so.

The world is watching.



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