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My Day with Caroline Kennedy This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

     My day with Caroline Kennedy. Never in my wildest dreams could I imagine starting an article with that as the title. However, once Teen Ink contacted me, it's all I could think about.

I was unbelievably nervous the morning of the interview. I could hardly even get dressed; my mother had to straighten almost every article of clothing. She urged me to take some breakfast in the car, but I couldn't even think about eating. I was about to interview a Kennedy!

When we arrived at the JFK Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, we were led upstairs to the Hemingway Room. We entered, only to see a giant lion rug sprawled out over the floor with a massive head staring up at us.

Bridget and I took a deep breath and sat on the couch, anxiously waiting. We even practiced how to sit like proper ladies. Excitedly reviewing our questions, we could hardly believe we were going to have such an amazing opportunity.

Before long, an entourage of people entered, and we all stood to greet them. Ms. Kennedy introduced herself as “Caroline,” putting me a little more at ease. She was dressed in a crisp blue pleated skirt and a white blazer, and was much more beautiful and petite than I had imagined.

When we sat, I awkwardly struggled to re-cross my legs as Caroline effortlessly settled in a large, overstuffed chair. She seemed so at ease in the Hemingway Room, as if she had sat in that chair hundreds of times.

After brief introductions, it was time to begin the interview. As she answered our questions, it hit me how human, compassionate, and understanding she really is. She answered from the perspective of a mother, a daughter, and an avid reader - not as the daughter of a former president or an icon of American culture.

Caroline listened attentively and it was clear she was interested in what we were asking her. She maintained eye contact, nodding and laughing throughout the interview.

We breezed through the questions, altering the order as the interview progressed, needing to think on our feet to try and make this an even better interview. She asked us a few questions, which we definitely were not expecting. I am surprised that I was able to answer intelligibly since I was so nervous and in awe.

I really enjoyed how the interview briefly transformed into a book discussion, offering titles of books that each of us should read. It allowed her to have a better sense of what we were like and also let us know what she enjoys reading.

Before I knew it, this incredible interview had finished. We took advantage of the quick photo opportunities, and then were escorted back downstairs. We had some time and decided to peruse the rest of the JFK Library. It was my first time visiting the museum and the amount of history the building encompassed impressed me. Walking around, seeing all sorts of footage of Caroline playing with her father as a child, it hit me again: I had just interviewed a Kennedy.

We then arrived at the ceremony for the 18th Annual Profiles in Courage Awards. Our seats were reserved in the fourth row, a prime spot to take it all in. I pulled my camera out of my purse and readied myself. However because the speeches were so powerful and poignant, I forgot to take pictures during the ceremony. I hung on every word that Caroline, Ted Kennedy, and the winners spoke.

One of the winners, Doris Voitier, is superintendent of the St. Bernard's Parish school system in New Orleans. Through her hard work and dedication, she was able to reopen schools just three and a half weeks after Hurricane Katrina. She discussed how critical schools were for the recovery of the community. Voitier said that she could share tales of the suffering, but instead she wanted to focus on the stories of remarkable resilience, hope and courage. And she did just that. She acknowledged the administrators' heroic actions, but humbly stated, “That's what school people do.” I was thoroughly impressed with her poise, compassion and strength.

Bill White, the mayor of Houston, Texas, was the other winner. He graciously opened his city to displaced Katrina victims. He welcomed students to the Houston school system, offered families vouchers for housing, and provided them with whatever they needed. As Sen. Ted Kennedy stated in his enthusiastic introduction, this was one of the most innovative humanitarian efforts in our nation's history. White modestly said that he was only treating fellow Americans as if they were family. His kindness and selflessness were evident throughout his moving speech.

As the speeches concluded, it struck me what a wonderful award this is. I was in awe of the altruistic actions these people took to benefit their fellow Americans.

To cap off an exceptional day, we were then invited to an elegant private reception overlooking the Boston Harbor for the Profiles in Courage guests. As I sipped my lemonade, garnished with a fresh raspberry, I couldn't help but think to myself what an incredible experience the whole day had been.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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RebeccaA said...
Sept. 20, 2009 at 1:59 pm
This is amazing, Caroline is such a wonderful person!
 
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