The first was eight years ago while living in New Zealand. What I distinctly remember about that time was how interested everyone was in who I was voting for. It was the first time I really understood how important the leadership in our government is to the rest of the world. Here was this tiny little island on the other side of the world who was intently keen on our election because the exportation of their lamb and dairy was dependent on the policy of our government.
Four years ago we were in Colombia. I honestly don't remember a thing about that day.
Today I am working at the American Institute (yes, same as an embassy) here in Taiwan. This is a first for me to actually be at an embassy as the final votes are coming in. I am not dead tired, waiting during the wee hours of night to find out the results. It's the middle of tomorrow for me. Just as many other embassies and consulates around the world are, AIT is hosting an election party for American passport holders. All the red, white and blue around in decorations and clothing is quite festive. Actually, the thought never crossed my mind. I could have come up with a great outfit, but I have black on today.
What I will remember about this year is the reality of being a diplomat for the American Government. Regardless of the outcome, the mission here has a job to do. I am just a drop in the bucket when it comes to the greater picture, but I still represent America to those who are watching around the world.
Another reality of being a diplomat is that you are more vulnerable. While I was typing away at my desk this morning the duck and cover alarm went off followed by the clear warning that this was not a drill. I had glanced through the news earlier and saw that two polls in America were on lock-down and there had been a shooting that killed a person. I don't know if this alarm was in any way related to the elections going on far across the sea, but I realized that all it takes is one crazy to wreak havoc. I made my co-worker come sit on the floor with me where we were sheltered from potential harm. It was a 10 or 15 minute break with alarms going off. Once again it reminded me how deeply our leaders effect the world.