I awoke Monday morning to find my Facebook feed filled with adorable photos of children back home dressed up as monsters, princesses, cows and witches. My news feeds featured the latest polls about the presidential election.
When I talked with my Moldovan friends, though, few of them cared about Halloween or our election, just as they won’t care about Thanksgiving or the Super Bowl.
Most Moldovans are oblivious to the controversies involving Hillary Clinton’s e-mails or Donald Trump’s tax returns. If Sean Hannity and Megyn Kelly fight again on Fox News, well, who are they? What’s Fox News? Why should someone here care?
I’m humbled as an American to be reminded every day that most people around the world know or care little about many things we consider important. It’s one of the insights I treasure most as a Peace Corps volunteer. I’ve been given the gift of a new vantage point to view my country and its place in the world.
Did you know Moldova just had its own presidential election, which is now heading to a second round? Perhaps you actually paid attention to this because you know me. (Some of you even sent me stories about it.) But otherwise, would you have even glanced at this news, which people here are following closely?
What Champa and I are seeing here is like what we saw in Nepal when we spent time there a year ago. People live their own lives. They have their own country. They’re curious to talk with us about America, but then they go home and get ready for another day of work.
This past Friday, Champa’s partner teacher organized a Halloween play at their school. It went great. Several other Peace Corps volunteers around Moldova also organized Halloween events, as did volunteers in other countries. Most of those events probably went well, too. Some of the kids who participated may remember Halloween for the rest of their lives. In small but immeasurable ways, our cultures grew closer together, all of which is wonderful.
Similarly, there’s no doubt millions of people around the world are paying close attention to the American election. They know it affects them, too. In general, they pay more attention to our country than we do to theirs. We are all more connected across nations than ever before.
Still, here in Moldova and around the world, most people will tuck their kids into bed tonight without thinking about Halloween, Donald Trump or all of the other things that loom so large in our American lives, sometimes even overwhelming us. They will sleep soundly just the same.
Personally, I have found it not only humbling but comforting to relearn this reality, which offers a different perspective on our own problems and obsessions. All of us, whether in the United States or someplace else live largely out of sight from one another. We share the world yet most of the world doesn’t care who will win the World Series tonight.