Utah UGRADers Catch the Election Buzz

Maja Kulic, Serbia (left) and Veljko Dimitrijevic, Serbia (second from right) from Illinois State attend an Obama campaign rally in Ohio.

This fall, Global UGRAD students have been actively engaged in presidential and local election campaigns.  World Learning asked Alit Sudarsana and Jovana Osmajic from the University of Utah to write about their experiences volunteering with the Romney and Obama campaigns.  After reading their perspectives we invite you to share your own stories and thoughts in the comments.


I Wayan Alit Sudarsana, Indonesia, University of Utah

Making a choice is one of the most difficult things in life, but for some reason we need to make many choices in this life, no matter how hard it is. 2012 is a year when you will choose your next President; it is a tough choice. It is hard because it will simply affect your daily life in one way or another. That is why you need to carefully think about it before you make up your mind.

One of the new things that I learned this year is when I got the chance to become a volunteer at Mitt Romney campaign center at Salt Lake City. I would like to assume that you already know Mitt Romney, because if you do not, I think you need to spend some of your time to read your local newspaper 🙂 . Volunteers at the Mitt Romney call center spent Saturday talking to voters, mostly by phone, as part of the campaign’s strategy to mobilize the GOP presidential candidate’s strength in Utah to secure victories in neighboring battleground states.

I noticed that there was a lot of enthusiasm and excitement and support for the former Salt Lake Olympic leader in Utah.  Last week, we were making calls to identify likely Romney supporters in the so-called swing states like Colorado and Nevada that could go either Republican or for the Democrat, President Barack Obama in November.

While making calls I usually ask people’s opinions on the election, one of the most interesting topics to discuss is the presidential debate, especially issues regarding the Afghanistan war. Mitt Romney did not say anything regarding Afghanistan or the military operation in Afghanistan in his acceptance speech on August 30, 2012. Some pundits criticize the GOP’s Presidential candidate by saying that he failed on delivering important issues regarding the military operation that includes more than 80,000 soldiers in Afghanistan.

Romney’s campaign team, however, defended the candidate’s decision to leave out any mention of the war in Afghanistan because he had covered the topic in a speech he gave to the American Legion in Indiana just one day prior to his convention speech.

Obama’s speech, however, in his Democratic National Convention successfully delivered the Afghanistan issues including the military operation in Afghanistan. He covered the issue by saying that America’s longest war was over. He also criticized his opponent’s speech, by saying that “…My opponent said that it was tragic to end the war in Iraq. And he won’t tell us how he’ll end the war in Afghanistan. Well, I have, and I will…”

Despite the debate, both candidates promised changes and hope during their campaigns. It is up to you to choose your next President, remember, it is not only for today, it is for the next FOUR YEARS, do not let anyone change your mind, not even a volunteer for the campaign.

Happy electing, America!

 Jovana Osmajic, Montenegro, University of Utah

My interest in the American elections, and politics in general, started back in 2007 when I heard President Obama’s speech on TV. I knew right away that he was the change that the United States needed, as much as the world. I started volunteering in 2007/2008 in Iowa (as a high school exchange student), and I cannot describe you my happiness that I have a chance to be present for the second election and help the President.

Through volunteering for this campaign I am trying to help the nation and get the President re-elected. At the same time I am having so much fun and meeting so many new people. On Mondays, I volunteer with the fellow students from the University. We work for the phone bank. Our job consists of calling people and asking them if they are the President’s supporters, and if they would like to contribute to the campaign through volunteering.  On the other days, I volunteer at the main Obama office here in Salt Lake City. Since Obama is losing in Utah, we are focusing on calling voters in the swing states of Colorado and Nevada. We call people to see if they are the President’s supporters, if they received their ballots, if they need any help with finding their voting office since it is really important that they send their ballots as soon as possible, and, of course, if they would like to volunteer. This is definitely the easiest way for me to be up-to-date with the campaign, and at the same time help. In addition, since I study foreign languages, talking to people is a way for me to improve my vocabulary and understand political terms, that are now more important than ever.  Maybe, one day, I will get a chance to work for the President. 🙂

What fulfills me the most is that every day I am surrounded with people like me, who are enthusiastic, ambitious and share the same goal. We work in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere, share our work experiences and laugh together. People hang up on us, give funny comments, encourage us, and thank us for doing what we do. Supporters’ nice words mean the world to us and they are the ones that make us work harder for these last couple of days before the election.

Danka Markovic, Montenegro, American University volunteering in Pennsylvania to get out the vote!

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