Traveling Abroad While Trump Runs for President

Disclaimer: I'm about to discuss politics and am not a Trump supporter, so if this is going to bother you, maybe stop reading now.

Last night I sat in the common room of my hostel in Lima drinking a beer with a nice older couple from Montreal.

They had recently retired from their teaching jobs and were traveling through Peru for a few weeks.  We struck up conversation about the best ways to get to the northern coast where Nate and I had just come from.

After a while chatting about our lives back home and having a few beers, they finally asked: "So... what is going ON with Donald Trump?"

I didn't have an answer for them.

"I know, I know, guys.  I'm just as horrified as you are, I swear," I said.

They just shook their heads in pity.  

This is not the first conversation I've had with foreigners about our elections.  In fact I'm about one more conversation away from sewing a Canadian flag to my backpack and learning some hockey terms.

In Ecuador, a local tour guide asked me in perfect English whether I support Donald Trump.  He knew what was happening with our debates, what Trump's stance is on foreign relations, the exact date of our next election.  

I was humbled from this conversation because I honestly can't name a single Ecuadorian president.  Not one throughout history.

It's an understatement to say that the world is watching.  People from other countries have major stakes in the outcome of our election, and it's not a joke to them.

A student at the Spanish school where I studied in Cuenca likened South American relations with the U.S. to a mouse sleeping in bed with an elephant.  "When the elephant rolls over in the night, you notice."

The elephant doesn't mean to be big.  It can't help its size.  But the fact is that the elephant does has an enormous effect on the mouse.  

I don't mean to say that we're the all-mighty America ruling the world.  But I do believe that, as a major super power, we have a responsibility to be good stewards to our neighbors.

And I'm seeing now that the entire world is watching Donald Trump.

It's an embarrassing time to be a U.S. citizen abroad.  When Trump compares penis sizes in a presidential debate, it's not surprising that the rest of the world starts to think we've all lost it.

All I can do is repeat what I said to the Canadian couple. "I know it looks bad, but we're not all like that."

Having been exposed to so much more of the world in the past few months, I can assure you that it's not a terrifying and awful place.  I hope that we can elect someone that has more respect for immigrants, someone who doesn't use fear of foreigners to fuel hatred and racism.  And then I hope that the world can regain some of its respect for us as a country.