Meeting Barack Obama This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

September 19, 2009
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It was a picturesque afternoon in the warmth and sunshine of summer. I was one of 10 rising seniors selected for this honor by my high school, sitting on the lawn of the White House, listening intently to the Father's Day remarks of President Barack Obama. My heart had been throbbing with excitement the entire trip to D.C. to meet the man for whom I had so diligently campaigned, interning at a local campaign office and leading canvassing drives every weekend.

After saying a few words to the group of teenagers and adult role models in the audience, President Obama greeted each of us, shaking our hands and chatting amicably. When my turn came, I told him about a canvassing trip that was especially memorable to me ….
That morning a hundred sweaty teenagers had piled onto steaming buses at 5 a.m. for the four-hour drive. We were headed for an exhausting day of trekking through neighborhoods, contending with rude residents who delight in slamming doors. I was already feeling apprehensive.

Throughout the day, my partner and I traversed three neighborhoods. At first, I was terrified at the thought of initiating a conversation with a stranger about a subject as sensitive as politics.

“What if they slam the door in my face? What if they ask me a policy question I can't answer?” I fretted. Indeed, we faced many slammed doors and challenging questions. In fact, as I introduced myself to the seventh resident on my list, her eyes bulged out and brows furrowed in disgust at the mention of the name Barack Obama. She suddenly leaped out of her house clutching a rolled-up copy of The Wall Street Journal, and began chasing me down the street, yelling profanities, until the quizzical look from a neighbor stopped her.

Later in the day, a shirtless man wearing only boxer shorts came to greet us at the door. His hospitable demeanor abruptly shifted into menacing anger when I announced my purpose. Before I had a chance to finish, he interjected, “Do you hate America? Do you want a Muslim socialist to run this country?!” We quickly thanked him for his time and retreated to the sidewalk.

Despite these incidents, the vast majority of residents welcomed us warmly, delighted to find students getting involved in the political process. As time passed, I began feeling more and more confident, and soon I was looking forward to hearing the story the next teacher or military spouse or fellow volunteer had to share. I was fascinated to hear about the struggles of average Americans, to discuss their concerns, and to connect with strangers in such an intimate way.

As we boarded the bus for our trip back that evening, there was a distinct contrast between the atmosphere of the morning and now. This volunteer group of 100 strangers were now my brothers and sisters in arms. Although each of us overcame different trials and obstacles, we shared a common sense of accomplishment. We had dug the same trenches and hiked the same terrain, and we had come through unscathed and better for it.
When I finished my story, the president shared his experiences of community organizing, and encouraged me to continue my involvement. His words were a great inspiration to me, and I will always remember that moment.

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

Join the Discussion

This article has 5 comments. Post your own now!

sallysunshine said...
Mar. 14, 2011 at 11:05 am
Why would you want to meet Obama he is screwing with our country. i liked your descriptive LA
TeenInkRuler said...
Jun. 1, 2010 at 7:25 pm
You actually met Obama? Lucky!!
nobody replied...
Jul. 24, 2011 at 10:38 pm
 Lucky? I agree with the people who chased this writer away. Mr. Obama has America wallowing in debt and this person was honored to meet him!
crazychick replied...
Aug. 15, 2011 at 10:14 pm
Bethani said...
Dec. 30, 2009 at 6:47 pm
You were very brave going out there doing what you did. I love your description of the event and your organization. Keep it up!
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