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U.S. Again Hailed as 'Country of Dreams'

Around the World, Obama's Victory Is Seen as a Renewal of American Ideals and Aspirations

People around the world spilled into the streets to celebrate the victory of U.S. president-elect Barack Obama, many saying the win was an inspiration for minorities and a powerful signal that the United States intended to change direction.
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By Kevin Sullivan
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, November 6, 2008

LONDON, Nov. 5 -- Through tears and whoops of joy, in celebrations that spilled onto the streets, people around the globe called Barack Obama's election Tuesday a victory for the world and a renewal of America's ability to inspire.

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From Paris to New Delhi to the beaches of Brazil, revelers said that his victory made them feel more connected to America and that America seemed suddenly more connected to the rest of the world.

"As a black British woman, I can't believe that America has voted in a black president," said Jackie Humphries, 49, a librarian who was among 1,500 people partying at the U.S. Embassy in London on Tuesday night.

"It makes me feel like there is a future that includes all of us," she said, wrapping her arm around a life-size cardboard likeness of the new U.S. president-elect.

"Americans overcame the racial divide and elected Obama because they wanted the real thing: a candidate who spoke from the bottom of his heart," said Terumi Hino, a photographer and painter in Tokyo. "I think this means the United States can go back to being admired as the country of dreams."

Kenya, where Obama's father was raised as a goatherd, declared Thursday a national holiday, and in Obama's ancestral village of Kogelo, people danced in the streets wrapped in the American flag.

In South Africa, Nelson Mandela, the civil rights icon who helped bring down his country's apartheid regime, released a letter to Obama in which he said, "Your victory has demonstrated that no person anywhere in the world should not dare to dream of wanting to change the world for a better place."

Desmond Tutu, another iconic anti-apartheid leader and the retired Anglican archbishop of Cape Town, said Obama's victory tells "people of color that for them, the sky is the limit."

"We have a new spring in our walk and our shoulders are straighter," Tutu said, echoing a sentiment heard across Africa.

The world sees Obama as more than a racial standard-bearer, of course. Many people praised his policies on matters ranging from Iraq to health care, which they appeared to know in remarkable detail.

Others expressed concerns. In China, some people worried about Obama's positions on the delicate issues of Tibet and Taiwan. Some Indians and Egyptians said they had questions about his views on Pakistan and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Many people, in dozens of interviews around the world Tuesday night and Wednesday, also said they understood that no new president could immediately change the United States or the world. But many said Obama's election was a powerful signal that the United States intended to change direction.


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