It’s been a tough weekend for those of us Chicagoans who dreamed of bringing the 2016 Olympic Games to our fair city. Friday, we found out that years of preparation came to naught when the International Olympic Committee ousted Chicago in the first round of voting, along with Tokyo. We longed to share our Midwestern American city—one filled with incredible architecture, home to people from dozens of nationalities and languages, not to mention innovative cuisine that rivals anything Los Angeles or New York City have to offer. But alas—the Olympic dream wasn’t to be, despite the passionate presentations of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle in Copenhagen last week….
Tag: President Barack Obama
Finally in America, the decades-long debate over health care is coming to a head. Last night, President Barack Obama hosted a prime-time news conference at the White House, where he delivered his vision on health care and answered reporters’ questions about it.
As someone who’s extensively traveled abroad and marveled at the United States’ apparent unwillingness to make affordable access to medical care available to ALL its people, I’m amazed that so many politicians—and regular citizens—think that providing such care is somehow socialist. Subversive. And against the “American way of life.” Well, if having to choose between buying groceries and paying for prescribed medicine is capitalism at its best, perhaps we need to re-examine our priorities ….
Over the years, I’ve visited nearly 30 countries in North America, South America, the Caribbean, the Middle East and Europe (where I’ve traveled so many times I’ve completely lost count).
But I’ve never been to Africa. And as an African-American, that sounds pretty pathetic.
Places on the continent are always on my mental “to-do” list, West African countries like Senegal and North African ones like Egypt and Morocco. But I haven’t made it there yet.
I started thinking about this during President Barack Obama’s recent trip to Ghana….
You know what struck me watching the post-election events unfold in Iran this week? How something as seemingly simple as the act of traveling can make SUCH a difference when it comes to intercultural understanding. Thank goodness we in the United States finally have a president who’s thoughtful and respectful of other folks in the world… but there are still some – and largely on the conservative end of the spectrum – who still see the world as “us” versus “them.” I just wonder what our country’s – and the world’s – relationships would be like if more of us traveled to “their” nation, saw how “they” lived, understood how “they” thought.
And that reminded me of a thought-provoking and in hindsight, truly prescient new book I just picked up from acclaimed travel writer (and of course, PBS television star) Rick Steves. In Travel as a Political Act, Steves explains that there’s far more travel than “good-value hotels, great art and tasty cuisine.” While he writes about travels throughout Europe (his travel business’s main focus), El Salvador, and Morocco, it’s his “Mission: Understand Iran” chapter that speaks most to me now….
I was thrilled to read last week that adorable young Malia and Sasha Obama would be joining President Barack and First Lady Michelle (and of course, First Granny Marian) in Paris and later London for their first European trip. It did my heart a world of good to know that these charming mesdemoiselles would be serving as America’s junior ambassadors to a continent obsessed with their glamorous parents—and one thrilled to see our formerly “you’re-either-with-us-or-against-us” nation back in the global mix.
But politics aside, I was thrilled for these two African-American girls, ages 8 and 10, both getting a chance to experience what life is like outside the prism of the United States. Granted, these are kids of privilege. Even if their dad wasn’t the leader of the free world, they’re the children of extremely well-educated and worldly parents and had a chance to travel to Africa back in 2006. But as I’ve found over the years, there is NOTHING like foreign travel to open your eyes to the realities of your own country. I just wish I’d had the chance to discover this way earlier in life rather than starting in my 20s. I’ve certainly tried to make up for lost time, visiting nearly 30 countries since then!
Just imagine how different we Americans would be if we started engaging the world as kids the Obamas’ age….