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Experience to Treasure This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

   Recently I had a chance of a lifetime when I was selected by Teen Ink to interview Secretary of State Colin Powell. Flying to Washington I was both apprehensive and excited. Although I had prepared a list of questions I wanted to ask, there were a million others running through my mind. But later, waiting for one of the most powerful men in the world to enter the room, I was ready. When the Secretary of State walked in, his kind smile and the easy-going tone of his deep voice reassured me. He made me, Maria and Mike feel as though there was nothing we couldn't ask.

With so many questions to ask in the 15 minutes available to us, I kept wondering what other teenagers wanted to know. At the same time, I was so grateful that this political giant, who had to give a speech on the situation in the Middle East an hour and a half after our meeting, had taken time out of his hectic day to devote to us. With that in mind, I focused on this moment, which I knew would be the most memorable in my life. I realized that for this interview to stand out, it would need to be personal, so instead of looking at my index cards with all the questions written out, I spoke to him in my own words.

As I conversed face to face with this great man, I realized what a wonderfully gifted individual he was. What was most striking was that he did not have any airs about him - he was a down-to-earth man speaking his mind. Secretary Powell laughed after hearing my question about the "friendly relationship between you and President Bush, or lack thereof, " and his answer highlighted his illustrious character. His message was that if the cabinet just agreed with the President, they would not be doing their job, because it is up to them to help President Bush with the issues. Argument does not prevent companionship. They are all such important people, yet within their personal lives, they encounter the same types of trials we do.

The 15 minutes that I was able to spend with Secretary Powell were the shortest in my life. In the blink of an eye, it was just a memory. Yet the message that it sent was so powerful that it shook the stereotypes of politicians. For me, it put the current administration in a new light.

My interview with Colin Powell was an inspirational, memorable and eye-opening experience I will treasure forever. I can proudly say that Colin Powell taught me that if our hearts are open to service, to opportunities, to each other, and we are not afraid to dream or to fail, then there is nothing standing between the person we are now and the person we want to become.

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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