This morning, sitting on the warm floor, light still dim, coffee pot sputtering, I watched the swelling, emotional crowd at the national mall, and listened to Obama’s inauguration speech over my tinny laptop speakers. Abroad one always feels like a reluctant ambassador: slightly responsible, implicit in some sense, and mostly apologizing. But today I felt, maybe for the first time in my life, a powerful hope and pride in MY country.(luckily, I can get away with saying that). I have never been so wide awake before coffee.
Later I played the event for my class over a projector; the Mall unfurled as an endless sea of people. Afterward I asked them what they thought: to sum up the event. In the broken English that smashes syntax and at times creates poetry, one of my students laid down a little mangled haiku:
no more old thought
new America future
After class I did my usual run through the papers, and overwhelmed at the mess this man has to face, wished him the best. From so far away, in a country tied to America, and in the midst of economic turmoil and heightening inter-Korean turbulence (tough talk from N.K, several killed in demonstrations in S.K), I understand how not only the USA, but the world at large needs new political perspective and energy. We can only hope that the swearing in of Barack Obama will encourage us to breach a new era. Godspeed.