This one is unusual in that it involves people from faraway lands, as they sat here, on the Peninsula, watching the Inauguration take place across the country. It was sent in by Susan Wildeboer, a local child care coordinator for Cultural Care Au Pair, and titled "Thoughts on America in View of Obama's Inauguration."
"As the Inaugural Balls were underway in Washington, D.C.," she wrote, "a group of au pairs, who provide child care for families in Mountain View and Los Altos, met in my living room for our monthly au pair meeting. Attending were au pairs from Austria, Brazil, Colombia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Mexico and Sweden.
"These young women are here through a program sponsored by the U.S. State Department and live with American families providing affordable child care. Since they are able to truly experience life in America, especially during this historic time, I was curious to know their thoughts about the election and inauguration, and how the U.S. is perceived in their home countries."
Wildeboer went on to ask the au pairs a series of questions, and recounted their various answers, which provide insight into how our politics affect the larger world. Among the Q&A's:
"What did you think about the U.S. and its people before you came here and what do you think now?
Livia (Brazil): "Here was a place where everything is perfect and magical. Now I see it is so much easier here than Brazil, but not perfect; it is just like any other country that has a lot of political problems and a lot of things it needs to change."
Has this experience changed you or your thoughts about the U.S.?
Hannah (Germany): "The youth in Germany are not very interested in politics. When I go home I think I will be more interested, something has changed in my mind since being here."
What do you think about the Inauguration?
Vicky (Denmark): "It is so interesting that Obama is such an icon for people and especially for young people. ... We are only 5 million people in my country and 2 million people showed up for the Inauguration here!"
For more information about the local Cultural Care Au Pair program, contact Susan Wildeboer at email@example.com.