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Young people say Obama opens door to new era

The extensive media coverage of the 2008 American elections reflected how many people were following the polls, eager to find out who would be the next president of the United States of America – Barack Obama or John McCain.
After Obama’s victory, the reaction reverberated not only in America, but around the world.
“Everybody was worried about the elections and we were happy to see that Obama had won,” said Alice Cordara, 17, of Genoa, Italy. “We like America’s new president very much.”
“Everyone reacted positively and was excited, especially my black peers,” said Anne Stolpe, 18, of Meschede, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.
“Lots of kids were happy. Everyone was happy,” said Kenneth Holder, 13, of West Hartford, Connecticut.

Anne Stolpe, 18, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Anne attends Städtisches Gymnasium Meschede school in Meschede, North Rhine-Westphalia. (YJI)

In Carteret, New Jersey, students gushed over the victory, said 11-year-old Divya Singh. “Oh my gosh! Obama won!” Singh said, echoing the reaction. “We have a black president! YES!”
Luca Capizzi, 18, of Genoa, said fellow Italian teens were happy with Obama’s victory.
“Even the ones who have Republican ideals were on Obama’s side,” said Capizzi.
Kenyan Cyrilla Mulindi, who lives in South Africa, said people there have a different perspective on the election.
“Everyone jokes because to South Africans, he’s not really black,” said Mulindi, who explained that in South African terms, Obama would be called “colored,” because he is bi-racial.
No matter, Mulindi said, because everyone is happy with Obama’s victory.
“They didn’t want the old, stereotyped, almost-dead-almost-bald-president,” said Mulindi. “I have yet to meet anyone in support of McCain.”
In spite of Obama’s apparent popularity, not everyone experienced only positive reactions from their peers.
“Most people are happy, but there are a couple people upset and a lot of forwarded messages are being sent around making fun of him,” said Cheyenne Hill, 16, of Tucson, Arizona.
Puneet Kapoor, 16, from Uttar Pradesh, India, said there was a lot of interest in the U.S. elections there. Kapoor said many Indians were happy about Obama’s victory, but that others were disappointed because they’d put a lot of trust in McCain’s policies and promises.
Ray Ma, a 15-year-old homeschooler from Columbia, South Carolina, said reactions were mixed.
“Some were jumping for joy, some wept, most of them, however, were silent,” Ma said.
But in New York, “there was nothing but pure joy,” according to Nicole Matthews, 18, of Queens, who voted
for the first time in November. “There were kids at my school screaming “Obama!” every possible second of the day following the announcement.”
Matthews said youth had already been impacted by the problems of the Bush administration. The prospect of
someone taking the nation in “an entirely different direction,” she said, “was a celebration of a lifetime.”
Thirteen-year-old Elan Green of Milwaukie, Oregon, said students at his school are “very happy and very proud” of Obama’s victory.

Puneet Kapoor, 16, of Uttar Pradesh, India. Puneet is a student at the Sunbeam English School in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. (YJI)

But Alessia Ubaldini, 18, also of Genoa, Italy, said her fellow students “didn’t react at all. They just accept the news as [if] nothing important had happened.” A few days later, though, Ubaldini said, she heard “a group of old people talking with enthusiasm” about Obama’s election.
“They were more pleasing than my peers, unfortunately,” said Ubaldini.
Nolitha Namatovu Luzuka, 18, of East London, South Africa, said her peers were “all excited at the prospect of a black president in the White House – not so much in an anti-white manner, but more because 10 years ago nobody would have thought that this could happen.”
Three Australian teens from Ballarat, Victoria, said the reaction Down Under was positive, too.
“Woo-hoo!” said 16-year-old Sarah Molloy.
“There is a certain buzz about Obama’s election,” said Timothy Lyons, 17.
Seventeen-year-old Paul Harris said people around him were “really happy,” but that it wasn’t because they didn’t like McCain. “Obama just had a certain appeal.”

Katie Grosser is a Senior Reporter for Youth Journalism International. She took the lead on this story with assistance from YJI reporters around the world. Contributing to this Youth Journalism International project were Associate Editor Rachel Glogowski in Bristol, Connecticut, U.S.A.; Senior Reporters Katie Grosser in Meschede, Calle, Germany; Edrees Kakar in Kabul, Afghanistan; Alexandra Patrikios in Ballarat, Victoria, Australia; and Wesley Saxena in West Hartford, Connecticut, U.S.A.; Reporters Sana Ali in Kuwait; Shekinah-Glory Dhanie-Beepat in Carteret, New Jersey, U.S.A; Eugenia Durante in Genoa, Italy; Kiernan Majerus-Collins in West Hartford, Connecticut, U.S.A.; Harsha Mishra in Bareilly, Uttar Province, India; and Mariechen Puchert in East London, Eastern Cape, South Africa; and Junior Reporters Brice Birdsall in Portland, Oregon, U.S.A.; Sarah Heath in Spring City, Tennessee, U.S.A.; Jacqueline Mejia in Queens, New York, U.S.A.; and Mariah Pulver in Tucson, Arizona, U.S.A.

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