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“We are all Americans again, yes?”

January 20, 2009

If BBC Radio is any indication, I’m guessing that everyone in the US is being bombarded by Inauguration related news. Tv, radio, newspapers, email, facebook, twitter, cells and assorted other websites are probably filled with nothing but detailed analyses of what Obama is going to say, what he is going to do and what he ate for breakfast on Inauguration Day (say that in a deep, booming voice. It’s fun.) .

Over here, it is possible that coverage is only slightly less omnipresent. It was THE topic on BBC this morning as I drove in and, using my amazing language skills, I was able to deduce that it was mentioned one or two (or 97) times on both Dutch and French radio. You’ve probably heard this ad nauseum at this point, but the general population of Europe really is excited. So, even if YOU are not thrilled with the situation, be thrilled for me because all this excitement is GREAT for me. It’s like my own little honeymoon period with Europe. Every time I go somewhere new or mess up something somewhere not so new, I don’t have to apologize for my American-ness quite as much. Even in FRANCE I was excused for my total lack of language skills with a “It’s okay, you get a free pass because of Obama.” True story.

A few other “true stories” that relate to all this Obamania in Europe:

A friend attended mass at her local Catholic church this past Sunday. The service was in English and the congregation was composed of primarily Irish, Scottish and English people. Rounding out the mix were a few South Africans, Australians and no more than three American couples. Given this demographic, you would think Obama would be off the agenda. Ha. Not only mentioned in the sermon but, when the children of the parish were called to do the weekly prayer, their first request was something along the lines of “We pray that Barack Obama is a good President.”

At Lou’s company retreat in December, Mr. Obama was referenced continually by the Belgian (not American!) managers. “If Obama can do it, we can do it. Yes we can!” “Let’s make history like Obama!”

French GreenPeace members did a bit of photoshopping and turned the now-iconic “Yes we can!” Obama posters into Sarkozy ones. Designed to attract attention to their cause during the signing of the climate package by the EU, it caused quite a fuss in France: http://observers.france24.com/en/content/20081202-sarkozy-yes-we-can-behind-poster-sarkobama-campaign-paris-ump (BF and I saw quite a few of these in Paris during our December visit. Though only when the camera was out of memory/battery. Obviously.)

Right after the election, we discussed Thanksgiving traditions in my French class and I asked our Italian instructor (yeah, my French teacher is Italian. It’s one of the seven – 7! – languages she speaks fluently.) if she had ever had a proper Turkey dinner. She said she had actually had Thanksgiving dinner with Americans before and was going to try and prepare one herself this year because “we are all Americans again, yes?”

As I type, our Belgian Billing manager, Danish tax manager and Indian Senior Manager are chanting “Yes we can!” (in reference to completing the billing on time).

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