Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Chapter Twenty-Two: Election Day in Korea

On Monday, I received my absentee ballot--which, as it turns out, had to be mailed back that day. I was so convinced that I would be disenfranchised so this was pretty much the best thing that could ever happen. And if anyone knows me, they know that I love nothing in life more than voting. Christine was excited for me too, "Oh, you vote now? For who, or is it secret?" "Well, Obama." I replied. It was strange to be asked by someone because I'm used to the assumption that I would clearly vote democratic.
I quickly opened it up, shaking, and filled it out while Billy and Kevin peeked over my shoulder and wanted me to explain. Mostly, though, they were amused at the idea of me having a last name. Luckily, I had a period off and could run down to the post office and mail it. As I saw the lady take it, some tears welled up in my eyes.

Yesterday, I got up thinking, "It's Election Day" but I was also frustrated by the fact that practically no voting would even take place before I went to bed. I was anxious all day, and as I headed to bed, the polls were just opening.

When I got up this morning, at five AM because I couldn't sleep with this cold I've got, I continued to watch coverage even though nothing had really happened. I watched for four and a half hours, then went to work. The polls were closing and by my first break, they had some projections. On my way home, I stopped to get kimbap. The TV at the shop made it look like Virginia had gone red and I have no idea what Korean news was saying. I panicked and ran upstairs with my lunch!
When I got there, I planted myself on my computer and in front of the TV, I did not want to miss a moment. Luckily, the Korean news was just misplacing their red states. Things were looking good. I talked anxiously to friends on the internet and at 1 o'clock, when California polls had closed--they called it. Again, tears welled up.
I didn't know how to respond. So, of course, I cried and took pictures with the webcam.

Me, in my little Korean apartment, watching CNN tell us about Obama's victory. Lisa and I discussed what this means. "Imagine what a different world we will have for our children." "This is the first election in which we are really adults, in the real world. And we are the ones who did this. I have so much hope for our generation now." "We will be able to tell our children about this moment." And so on. I could not stop control the Hope! I turned on "Ooh Child" and rocked the Hope. I could hear Korean children playing outside and I wanted to run and hug them all.

I watched McCain's concession speech and Obama's acceptance at 2 o'clock, still talking to Lisa about how the world is going to change. Again, the Hope was out in full force.

At 2:30, I went back to work so that I could hug the kindergarteners goodbye. At this point, it was equally important to me that Liam had learned how to spell his name today with my help (to which, clearly, I cried a little). I gave them all such good hugs. But when I saw Arthur I demanded a high-five and he didn't get it. Apparently, he was unaware that Obama had won. I told Nicole and Chris. No one seems to understand the crying or the Hope. I said that I knew things would change now. Nicole told me that's what every new president says. Yet, I couldn't be talked out of my ecstacy.
Then I went back to writing report cards and had an ordinary day. Slowly, the Korean teachers heard. No one was particularly interested, not that I would expect them to be. Somehow, in my own head and my own apartment, the world had just changed--but at Little Genius, it was just another day. Maybe not just another day, we did have a staff birthday party.

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