Winter 2017, Special Issue : Reactions from Abroad to the American Presidential Elections

Winter 2017, Special Issue : Reactions from Abroad to the American Presidential Elections

In this special issue of Global Impressions we deviate from the format of personal reflective essays to venture more broadly into political commentary. As a College whose vision and goals, as stated in the successfully concluded Campaign for Smith, is to help Smith students(…) develop the cultural fluency that will enable them to contribute and act effectively in today’s global society” and “to work collaboratively and effectively across cultures and boundaries…” we reach out to our alumnae and students abroad to open a window onto the world beyond the Grecourt Gates.

We have solicited alumnae who work or live abroad to communicate their observations of the reactions of people in their communities on the American presidential elections.  What are the perceptions of the US and has the election modified them? We share below a range of their observations— some poignant and rueful; others more acerbic and critical—from  Austria, England, Scotland, Germany, France, Spain,  and as far away as  Turkey and the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa.

In our regular series, Issue IX  will celebrate photography as a tool for storytelling.   When traveling away from home to places that are new to us, the call to record our journey is compelling. Whether we travel as student, anthropologist, journalist, scientist, or tourist,  we take our camera  to record what we see, observe, and experience. Sometimes it’s a mundane scene; at other times, something startlingly strange, new or incomprehensible. Little by little, our photos begin to tell a story we may not have known or understood at the time we took the pictures.  We invite you to submit a photo or two with an  accompanying short essay that tells a story of a moment or a time away from your familiar surroundings and how that moment led  you to make  a discovery of some sort about yourself, the moment, the culture or the place you traveled in.   Submit your essay to the Submission form,  Issue IX , by February 15, 2017

– The Editors


Lucy McAuliffe ’12

As a fairly liberal country that has not seen the same extreme right-wing parties as other European countries have in recent years, Spain is worried. This essay focuses primarily on the media and pop culture lens through which Spaniards view Trump.


Hannah Carlson ’14

As an English teacher in France, I work with small groups of students in middle schools who are the strongest in English among their peers. I’ve been able to have fairly substantive discussions with some of my older students and hear their reactions to Donald Trump and his xenophobic remarks about Muslims and people of color.


Nora Turriago ’16

My presence as an American in Spain now meant two things: I became the designated soundboard for Spaniards to reflect on the decline of American politics and I was also expected to provide a justification for Trump’s win.  Oy.


Christine Louise Hohlbaum ’91

Once viewed as a hero and protector of democracy, the United States is experiencing a shift in Europe as EU-member states consider how they can emancipate themselves. Trump’s rise to power is not yet compared to Hitler in Germany, but the parallels are obvious. The country of unlimited possibilities is quickly morphing into a country of limitless preposterous posturing.


Defne Arsel ’96

The recent U.S elections and the presidency of Mr. Trump cannot be thoroughly evaluated without making reference to the U.S foreign policy of the last fifty years– the perspective of a Turkish Smithie.


Janet Voute-Allen ’75

The election of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States cannot be seen as an isolated incident, but rather it is the result of broader societal trends including: a rejection of open borders and the free trade policies that facilitate globalization; a related rise in nationalism and isolationism: increasing fear of “the other” including anti-foreigner, anti-migration and anti-refugee sentiment coupled with a real fear of terrorism…


Sophia Wise ’14

Boy was there egg on my face. I had spent my first three months in Vienna assuring my new friends that there was no way in hell Donald Trump would be elected president. On election night I lay awake until 5am, perpetually refreshing the newsfeed on my phone, only falling into a fitful sleep when it looked as if I had been wrong. I awoke to find that I certainly had been wrong. WEE ARE OVERRULED

Riana Hull ’14

When I got to class, two Scots began talking about the election. One of them said, “well, we don’t know what Hillary would have been like in office” with an obvious ominous implication. Fueled by lack of sleep and anger, I wanted to punch him.


Emily Evans ’02

In the past many Germans liked to laugh at American election politics and gaffes, but Trump’s election inspired a degree of worry and disappointment that seems to be a turning point. Germans now question their view of the US, and Americans, as a whole.


Eva McNamara ’13

When you travel, there are always people who would like to learn about your world, as well as show you a bit of theirs. These voices are inspired by just a few of the many I have heard in different places around the world during the last six months.