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Student’s Semester Abroad Ignites Desire to Vote

by Allison Henry – UPI

George Mason University senior, Jillian Young, spent most of her life avoiding politics, despite her families’ strong conservative roots. “Growing up, I never had any interest in politics or presidential elections,” said Young. However, at age 21, her views changed after spending a semester abroad.

In 2007, Young decided to take advantage of George Mason’s study aboard program and pursued her dream of studying in London. While there she was surprised by some Europeans’ anti-American attitudes. On several occasions, strangers approached her and outwardly expressed their frustrations with President Bush and the war in Iraq.

“Studying in London sparked my interest in American politics and made me realize the importance of my own voting responsibility,” she said. “I experienced firsthand the magnitude of the American government’s impact globally on both political and social levels.” While abroad, Young spent time expanding her knowledge of American politics by reading online news reports and joining political social networking groups.

Reflecting on her experience in London, Young remarked, “Being an American student abroad ignited my own sense of national pride.” Young’s experience abroad inspired her to vote in the upcoming 2008 elections. Although she is undecided on her candidate she plans to put political parties aside and vote for the candidate who will best represent America’s interests nationally and internationally.

She identifies with U.S. Sen. Barack Obama’s statement, “The men and women who serve in our battlefields may be Democrats, Republicans, or Independents, but they have fought together, and bled together, and some died together under the same proud flag. They have not served a red America or a blue America; they have served the United States of America.”

Her older brother recently returned from serving his fourth tour of duty in Iraq. “It pains me to think that my brother has risked his life to protect and serve our county while others fight to discredit the war,” she said. “Regardless of one’s political views, I believe it is vital for American’s to unite in supporting the millions of American’s serving our nation.”

Young says she would like to see the war come to an end, however; not at the expense of her brother’s safety or those he served with overseas. “The last thing I want is to see is the look on my parent’s faces if he is sent back to Iraq,” she said. Young hopes the next elected president will restore America’s pride and global image.

Currently, Young is focused on completing her final year of college and hopes to move back to London for graduate school. Young said she is blessed to study at Mason, because it allows her to interact with other international students and gain a greater global understanding. She hopes by moving abroad she can help break down anti-American stereotypes and represent the America her brother has fought so hard to uphold.

From: The Voice of Young Voters

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