Observing the U.S. Election: Thessaloniki, Greece

Election Events: U.S. Consulate in Thessaloniki, Greece

As submitted by embassy staff

Consulate General Thessaloniki hosted an election returns breakfast for approximately 60 students and faculty from the American Farm School, Pinewood and Anatolia College – the three American-affiliated educational institutions in Thessaloniki, Greece. Our interns – Greek students from local universities – began by giving an overview of the U.S. political system to the diverse group of students which also included international students from Albania, Macedonia, the United States, Italy, Switzerland, and Spain. The guests asked questions about the Electoral College, prompting a discussion of the pros and cons of the system, and its role in providing equal representation for large and small states. Students were interested to learn that federal elections are conducted exclusively by states and that each state has multiple offices and issues up for vote. I passed around a copy of a blank ballot from my home state of California to show the diversity of issues and candidates – from elections to the local water board, school district, and sheriff – all the way to electing a president and vice president. Because of space limitations at the venue and high-demand from students to attend, one school even required prospective attendees to write essays about the U.S. political system and those with the best papers were invited to attend. Another school required those in attendance to present what they learned to their classmates after the event. Over breakfast, students also had the opportunity to cast their own ballots. The result? An overwhelming victory for President Obama. They also clamored to take photos with the life size cutouts of the candidates and the event concluded with students watching both the concession and later, victory speeches. When we asked the guests for their assessment of the speeches — several students spoke of both Governor Romney and President Obama’s emphasis on the need for Americans to unite and work together to address common problems – a message they greatly appreciated. Despite the early hour, the discussion and excitement of watching the returns energized the students and furthered their understanding of the American political system.

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Additional photos of election events can be found at http://www.facebook.com/USEmbassyAthens.

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