Urime për Obamën!?

The only two elections I've been old enough to vote in were the past two and the last two Obama won. When I was in college I had to do an absentee ballot because I didn't live in the county I was registered in but this year I thought since I was going to be in the states for early election day I would actually experience waiting in line and voting normally. Unfortunately this was not the case. I waited in line in my county of permeant residence only to be told since I didn't have proof of residency (pay check stub, updated license or some sort of bill) I would not be able to vote. My dad said it happened because they knew who I was going to vote for but I'm not sure that was it.

We found out the winner of the election the last night I was in America with my friends from college. Last time Obama was elected it was my junior year of college and I was in a friends dorm room after practice. This year I was with two of those same friends at a bar in north Raleigh as the numbers were being tallied. I sat at the table with 5 or 6 friends from college, all with different beliefs, backgrounds, skin colors and some who's views had even changed since I met them but we all sat there respectfully not really getting too much into anything political but still paying attention closely.

Once I came back to Albania I didn't expect much to be said of the election in America. I mean I know that people know American's just spent billions of dollars on campaigning and the outcome was the same and I know international news on the American election has been constant here for a few months but I never expected to be walking down the street an someone congratulate me on who won the election. In the past two days I've had more than 10 people, some strangers, ask me if I voted, who I voted for and congratulate me for Obama's win. Today the mayor asked me who I voted for and a guy in the office screamed "but he's not white! you're white," so not all the attention I get is positive.

Which takes me back to the last night when I was in America and I asked some of my friends who they were voting for and they wouldn't tell me or I knew not to even bring it up but when I come back here I have complete strangers ask me who I voted for. I've always had an eclectic group of friends and family members and have learned just to lay low when political conversations arise but now I'm being confronted head on, strangers yelling "Urime për Obamën!" or "Congratulations for Obama!" It's not because I think they're avid Obama supporters or think that I am, I think it comes back down to the collectivist society thing again and them just wanting to let me know, they know. I like it. Shows support. Respekt. As a Peace Corps policy were told not to discuss political stances with anyone basically but observing the differences in cultural norms when it comes to voting is pretty interesting.