My flight left Philadelphia at 6pm on January 17th, I arrived in Medellín early the next morning. Just a few days later Donald Trump was sworn in as president and my newsfeed was filled with first-hand accounts and photos of the Women’s March. Did I get out just in time? Did I run away when my country needs my voice the most?
Oh boy, have things changed since I left. Less than two weeks, and my world turned upside down without me. People are out in the streets, making their voices heard. People I never thought had political motivations, and yet they’re out there. Through my filter of social media, it seems each word out of Trump’s/Spencer’s/Preibus’s mouth causes another uproar from the public. From where I sit in this Medellín apartment, it’s like a thunderous crowd of voices, but one I can mute by shutting the lid of my laptop.
To stay in touch with the news here, I listen to the BBC World Service podcast every morning while I shower and make coffee. It’s something I started doing in Cartagena and have picked up again this past week. I like that it isn’t a politically biased US perspective. At most, I get only the top headlines about the political goings-on in my country. I hear much more about the Syrian refugee crisis and tech advancements and trade agreements.
But what’s happening back home now requires a bit more attention. And for me, a bit more explanation. I do not understand the nomination processes for cabinet members, nor the implications of each executive order our new commander-in-chief has signed. So I now listen (mostly, it gets a bit long) to Pod Save America. I try to read as many articles as I can, mostly from the Washington Post, to which I have a subscription on my kindle.
So I’m doing my best to stay informed. Great. But what do I do now?
After the Women’s March I saw a lot of friends post the 10 Actions 100 Days page. And those friends have been following up; I see facebook posts about calls to senators and congressmen, instagrams of their letters going into the post. I cannot make those calls with my international number. I cannot send a letter (without enormous cost). Still, I’d like to help. I am an American, and always will be.
On January 21st, the day of the Women’s March on Washington, I attended a picnic in Medellín with the name “Mas Fuerte Juntas” (stronger together). That made me feel in good company with other democrats and like-minded people. We wrote post-it notes with favorite quotes and talked about our feelings on the march and recent events. Snacks were eaten, small talk made, numbers exchanged. All well and good.
But it’s hardly protesting in front of the JFK airport. Or going on strike. Or marching on Washington.
Please tell me if you know of great ways to protest or make change as an expat. I’m very open to ideas. For now, I’ll do my best to educate the Colombians in my life about what’s happening in my country. Try to explain to them that we’re not all bad, despite the man who we elected. I’ll keep reading, and discussing, and writing. And hopefully soon, I’ll find my action as well.