One of the grandest gifts that Argentina gave me
“Si Macri gane la presidencia, me voy del país”
-My Argentine host sister
I am registered to vote in the US. I only registered because my friend invited me to, but I still have yet to use that right. Many people have asked me why I chose Argentina as my country of study abroad, and one of my growing interests is the political atmosphere here. Unlike the situation for US citizens, Argentine citizens are required to vote. It continues to shock me how politically active, cognizant, and defensive Argentines are about the presidential candidates. While it is easier to keep your political opinions depressed in the US, Argentines are extremely open about their stance. My host mother will mute the T.V. when her most hated candidate has an advertisement on, and she has spoken about how she has best friends who have completely different political opinions than her. My host sister has told me (in spanish) that if XYZcandidate [I can not remember who it was] wins the presidency, she would move out of the country. Although this might have been a joke, I didn’t take the sentiment lightly. I attend la UBA, which is the highly prestigious public university. Being public means that political campaigning is allowed on campuses, unlike the private universities like UCA or USAL. Seeing how much politics dictates the country had inspired me to become more politically involved as well.
For the first time, I made the decision to watch the Democratic Debate. I can absolutely say that this decision was a turning point in my personal, academic, and professional life. I used to fear politics, thinking it was too complex of a debate and I used to undervalue the impact that politics have on my daily life and in my local community. Also, I did not stay up-to-date with the news, so I was not informed enough to have an opinion. Admittedly, I have lived my last few years pretty ignorant of American and international politics. After watching the Democratic Debate, I realized that I do have opinions about various political topics. I realized that I do have an opinion on different candidates running, and watching the Debate allowed me to get to know them more. Most importantly, I realized not only do I have opinions, but there are candidates whose stance align with mine, and that I have the right to vote for a candidate that I support. Now, I absolutely think that politics affect people, from the top-down.
Now, when I see political news (American or Argentine), I don’t shy away from it like I used to. I will forever thank Argentina for showing me how to be a politically responsible citizen, and how much it is a privilege to be able to vote. For the next Presidential election, I will be happily casting a ballot.