I was living in Durham, NC in 2008 and saw the happiness in the streets as the traditionally black neighborhood built by tobacco workers, now occupied by Duke University and Durham City employees, was filled with tangible, palpable hope.
In 2009 I started the AGSM MBA program in Sydney, Australia and watched Obama's first Inauguration speech as a part of our Foundations of Management course, seeing the jubilation in my classmates, made up of more than 60 business professionals from over 30 countries.
This Presidency has been the hallmark of my desires as an active, global Democrat. I watched from Sydney in 2012, tweeting from the Democrats Abroad Australia Twitter handle @DemsAbroadOz as Obama remained the 44th President of the United States. Living in Australia, Obama's presidency made sense.
Here I was living in a country with limited handguns, universal healthcare, and a quality of life of which I know Barack would approve. Coming back to the United States as a dual US / Australian citizen in 2015, it was a harsh culture shock returning to Conservative West Texas, where Commonwealth dignity and Climate Change concerns of Australia were replaced by latent racism and ignorance.
It was a shock to every Democrat when Trump was elected, and added insult to the injury of an unpalatable return to my home town "values". I want desperately to cling to the America I know we share, Michelle and Barack Obama, and I vow to become more active, vocal and rational despite the discouragement, fear mongering and erratic falsehoods that await.
We've seen these tactics before, bathed in the blood of thousands of Iraqis, and yet we know that we are able to create a better life, a clearer reality, a greater hope. We continue to live it everyday, despite a despicable 45th flash in Pan-American progress.