December 5, 2022

By YI WU
AAP staff intern

“Oh my god! Oh my god!” An Indian girl stood on her tip-toe, continued yelling with watery eyes, “I cannot believe he is here!” I was thinking the same thoughts at seeing President Barack Obama standing just a few meters away from me. I was also reminded of an irony as a citizen of China; I had never yet got a chance to see a Chinese President in person.

At 4:40 a.m. on October 23, I woke up without the help of an alarm clock. Instead, my excitement to see President Obama was all it took to shake me from my slumber. Quickly, I got cleaned up and dressed in minutes before running downstairs to meet three friends who were also international students and shared my passion to see the American president.

Arriving at University of Minnesota around 6:00 a.m., we were surprised to be among just a dozen or so people waiting in line. We came earl in anticipation of long lines but not everyone shared our enthusiasm to keep a place in line outside in the cold and rain for more than six hours.

When the doors opened the discomfort and tiredness subsided as we rushed to the front row. There were two seating areas in the stadium. The one near to the podium was reserved for 2,500 VIPs and the rest was for ordinary people like me. I was lucky enough to be in the first row and tall enough to see over the few staff that continuously walked in front of me.

After several speeches from Minnesota politicians, we were pleased to see President Obama finally show up at 4:00 p.m. By that time the stadium was filled with a crowd of 7,000 people all cheering and with cameras flashing. It was interesting to see people in my area crazily shouting and even climbing up on the railings for a better view.

It was a curious contrast in our section where the introductory speeches drew little response while the people of the VIP area offered rousing cheers after every line-ending platitude from the speakers. When Obama took the stage, the quiet people around me exhibited newfound excitement as if they were seeing a famous movie star.

I was shocked. I was sure that I would not behave like this if I were watching Chinese leaders. However, this experience taught me why the crowd was so attracted to with the president.

From Obama’s clothes and body gestures to his friendly smile and with every word of the speech – I began to answer my own question about why Americans are so interested in politics. In America the politicians always try to give you hope. They make you believe that they are working hard for a better society and that every citizen should understands that they are empowered to make change with their right to vote.

Coming out from the University Field House, my camera was full of photos and videos of Obama. My mind was swimming with the reaction of people that exhibited such passion about concepts of freedom and democracy.

I was also reminded again about my first thoughts upon entering the stadium and perhaps a little stronger. When can I have a chance to glance at the presence of a Chinese President?

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