Read, Write and Learn

Is Global Voices covering Obama and the US election too much recently? That’s what a friend questions in GV mailing list. No, many people respond, it shows how this topic is universal. Most people in that thread would like to continue the coverage, as Obama fad is all over the world. David believes Obama is one of the few topics that everyone is interested in discussing, whatever their backgrounds are, and one that everyone seems to have sufficient knowledge or information to engage in a conversation.

Very true. The price of Big Mac may be different around the world, but the word “Obama” means the same thing, same person, and same face to almost all people. If you have no idea how the world is crazy for this man, take a look on Voices without Votes, and you’ll get a better picture.

Hundreds of millions of blog posts all center on one person: Obama. Politicians are eager to compare themselves to him as a symbol of change, a new era, and self-confidence. Should Global Voices reflect this reality?

Some say “Yes”; others say “Yes, but…” I am closer to the latter group.

To me, Global Voices is a learning process. If someone still questions why read/write/translate Global Voices, it’s because you learn from the process, at least I do.

Last night, I wrote and published a post about New Zealand’s parliamentary election on November 8. Before I start, I know Helen Clark, the outgoing Prime Minister, I know an election is going on, and I know lots of immigrants living in NZ. I didn’t follow the election, I don’t know who John Key is, and I have no ideas about what will happen after voting day. I decide to write a post about it, partly because GV doesn’t have an NZ author, and partly because I want to know what and who these things above are. So I start my journey and write about short post about this election.

It is not a comprehensive post, not even close, but I believe at least it provides a possibility for me and maybe others to get to know some different things. This is the joyful part of being in Global Voices. We can learn because of our innocence. Global Voices posts will not turn you into experts immediately, but they open up doors for you to explore. I don’t know how many people will actually read my post about New Zealand, but I am certain that I am one of them who benefit the most.

Is it easier to talk and write about things that we already know? Absolutely. That’s one of the reasons why people are indifferent towards international news: they don’t find any relevance to themselves. Some people think only domestic affairs matter. Only local stuffs are qualified for headlines.

From Obama case, we can clearly notice the strong power of mass media: It makes people everywhere believe that they know enough about the guy named Obama, and they are able/suitable to share their views with others. Mass media makes people think Obama is as important as an domestic issue. His victory is on the frontpage and headline of countless newspapers.

US election and Obama espeically is indeed one of the rare cases that becomes a common topic worldwide. Can we learn anything from it? Of course. Can we learn from other issues and topics? Of course, and I perceive Global Voices is a good place to start, to put one step out of our comfort zone.

Just put it simply: Isn’t that fun and joyful to learn something that we don’t know?

My friend, Hanako tells me Canada has held a federal election before US presidential one. I don’t know much again, but would be interested in knowing who Stephen Harper is, what will happen since he continues in power and what Québécois think about the results, although GV doesn’t have coverage on this yet. I can read and learn.

David says:

In each place I had to invest uncountable hours of reading newspapers and Wikipedia to have the basic context in order to have a conversation with locals.

But I think it’s very worthy when you see faces delighted when they find someone knows and cares about their country. From my experiences, I think it is.

2008 New Zealand General Election photo from sirwiseowl


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