By JESSE DAVIS
And they’re off. As soon as President Barack Obama stepped away from the podium Tuesday, pundits, officials, talk show hosts and others from all walks of life began analyzing his first speech as leader of the country. Outside the auditorium in the Umble Center at Goshen College, local residents were also talking about the speech.
“He didn’t proclaim any direct policy, and for anyone who’s watched him and his oratory over the past two years, it’s not surprising. But the moment is different now that he’s not just a senator or nominee or president-elect, but our 44th president,” Sheldon Good said.
Good, 21, is a senior student at the college with a double major in business and communication.
“I like how he says we have a lot to do, that it’s going to be a collaboration of everybody’s work to get the nation back to where we want it to be,” art major Stephanie Shrock said. “It puts the responsibility back on us and I think that’s really important.”
In addition to watching the inauguration, Shrock celebrated her 26th birthday Tuesday.
Ann Hochstetler, 54, is an English professor at the college, currently on sabbatical. She was impressed by the pragmatism of the speech.
“I thought it was powerful, to the point, direct,” she said.
She also noted the care taken in “the way he put it together and the way he tried to reframe it to bring everyone together to support him.”
The experience was totally different for social work major Aude Detty.
Detty, 38, is from Gabon, a country in east central Africa.
“It was interesting. I’m always watching Barack Obama, I’m always emotional. I don’t know why. He gives hope to people like us, people like me, who are coming from another country,” she said.
Of course, she has always had confidence in Obama, even back during the early days of the primaries.
“I always felt he was going to be the president,” Detty said.
Peace, justice and conflict studies major Benito Miller, 23, was appreciative of the wording chosen by Obama in writing the speech.
“I liked the gender-inclusive language he used to refer to brothers, sisters, citizens as a whole,” Miller said. “I also like that he was honest about the problems facing the country and asking everyone for help in finding solutions.”
Some are still trying to decide what they think of the speech, wanting to thoughtfully analyze Obama’s words before making up their minds.
“I’m still thinking about it too, you kind of have to sleep on them sometimes. My initial reaction to this is that it’s probably the first time I’ve even felt some pride in this country, or not been cynical about the country,” Annali Smucker, 20, said.
The double major in art and interdisciplinary studies said she understands that his inauguration doesn’t inherently change anything, and that our nation’s problems won’t solve themselves.
“But it’s a start, going in the right direction,” she said.