Eighty-year-old English teacher Rowell Hoff and his wife Carol live in Inner Mongolia and like thousands of US expats, were closely tuned into the elections last week. The couple say they were greatly pleased with the historic outcome because of the ramifications.
Rowell says the election result is a giant step in the development of true equality in the United States.
"Sixty years ago, in any of a large number of states, black citizens were prevented from voting," he says.
"Even after the partial successes of the civil rights movement in the third quarter of the 20th century, it would have been difficult to imagine that this day would come at any foreseeable time.
"But it has happened now."
Before coming to China, the couple lived and taught English in the Dominican Republic for 31 years.
Rowell says he has seen the lifestyles of people in many countries and notices a common pattern among people of all races. He says one of the most destructive human traits is racism, a major US problem Obama's presidency may help heal.
"The human race is like a flower garden whose beauty and charm depend on the harmonious co-existence of many kinds and colors of flowers," he says.
American expats flock to Malone's Bar in downtown Shanghai last week to watch the US president election. [China Daily]
"Prejudices of race, class and religion - a stain on many civilizations throughout history, not least that of America - are destructive weeds in such a garden.
"For this election to have occurred, there must have been a reduction in racial prejudice.
"This, for us, is a delight. Race prejudice is still the most challenging issue for the United States; what we see here is hope."
However he says the new administration faces major challenges.
"It is encouraging to see that the president-elect is an intelligent and judicious person, besides being, as evidenced by his election itself, a superb politician - a skill any American president urgently needs," he says.
"He has lived and functioned in several extremely different cultural settings, for example, Indonesia, Hawaii, Harvard University, Chicago's south side, not to mention the Senates of the State of Illinois and the United States.
"His knowledge of the world, then, is broad and deep. We hope he will not forget any of it and will keep on learning."
Rowell was assigned to study Chinese in the 1950s as a member of the US Air Force, and had always wanted to come to China.
"After our children were educated and married, we looked for a job and in 2000 came to Hohhot, again as English teachers," he says.
They have a small consulting business there and expect to remain in China as long as they are able to renew their visas.
(China Daily November 10, 2008)