“My dream to visit America was ruined by Donald Trump.” – Overheard in a cafe during a dinner conversation in Arad, Romania.
Now that I’ve attained dual citizenship in Romania, many here have jokingly asked me, “So, do you think Trump will let you back in your own country now?” I laugh it off, but the reality is that its difficult to combat the image that has been perpetuated following the wake of Trump’s vitriolic and divisive candidacy. It’s difficult being an American abroad, seeing the turmoil and massive protests back home. It’s all the more difficult being a Fulbrighter, serving as a cultural ambassador for the US, and facing the series of questions from locals and students here. Many worry about the racism, religious discrimination, misogyny, and creeping isolationism that America seems to be heading towards. Others have asked me if I even want to go back after this.
Here in Romania, people have their own (arguably worse) worries, as only 27 years ago, Romania was still a Communist country. Many here have looked to the US as a beacon of freedom, justice, and equality. One friend told me “The jokes about American politics will write themselves for the next four years.”I only hope he will not be proven right. I can only hope that Americans will continue to rise and demonstrably defend the values that define us.