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Just One Hour This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

   My experience with Maya Angelou was unlike anything I have ever had, and I doubt it will ever be repeated. Despite the bittersweet nature of this reality, I am thankful that Teen Ink offered me the opportunity to "interview" her when they did. Since this experience, I have reached new heights with my writing, both personally and publicly. When I left my hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia for Winston-Salem, I did not know what to expect. The only preparation I had made short of confidence-building was writing. As it turns out, we only had time to ask about a dozen of the hundreds of questions we brought to North Carolina.

As I listened to the radio (Bob Dylan, of course) on my four-hour trek southward, I was struck by how abruptly everything I was doing in my life had stopped so that I could do this interview, and I found myself asking why. Why was such a simple task so important? What makes an hour of one's time more significant than the next? By the time I returned to my car to drive home, however, these questions were answered.

Dr. Angelou is the type of person who commands a certain presence. As she enters a room, the room seems to stop altogether and then shift its course to better suit her style. Though her voice is renowned for its power, I was more struck by its substance and brutal honesty.

I would not call our time together an interview, nor would I call it a conversation. We simply provided Dr. Angelou the subjects on which she built a lecture. Her homily, however, was drastically different in form from the many I attend daily at school. Her underlying lessons were about how to live fully, how to cherish what we are given, and how to give it back to the world. That is the stuff that Dr. Angelou and other true writers are made of, and that is the stuff that she passed along to me.

Driving home, I found that I had answers to my questions. The hourI spent with Dr. Angelou was perhaps the most formative hour I have yet lived. Once home, I set to work on what may prove to be my most successful piece thus far. "Streaming" is a personal examination of a significant change in my life. My experience with Dr. Angelou did not bring about this change, but it was able to highlight it in a way that made it possible for me to put it on the page.

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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