Hello, Mr. President (whichever one it may be)

7.10.2008

Hi all...

So you've heard of my 4th of July extravaganza and the Arlington experience which are all things uniquely experienced in the nation's capitol. But one thing you have not yet heard of, which is probably the most exciting, is my opportunity to hear both presidential candidates--Senator John McCain and Barack Obama--speak at the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Conference this past Tuesday. I shook McCain's hand and stood 5 feet in front of Obama...it was a wonderful, fun, exciting experience. It all started on Monday afternoon when I received a mass email from a coordinator in the UCDC Center. He was part of LULAC, a UCDC alum, and he needed volunteers for Tuesday's event to do all sorts of responsibilities. I assumed that the work wouldn't be so fun but I knew it was an opportunity of a lifetime and I took it in a heartbeat. The next morning, a huge group of us walked over to the Washington Hilton (yes, where Reagan was shot) and volunteered ourselves. John McCain was scheduled to speak at noon during a luncheon, and Obama was scheduled to speak at 4:30 pm. For McCain's event, I was assigned the ballroom where he was speaking and basically, my responsibilities were to look out for any hecklers in the audience. If there were any and if they were yelling rude or obscene things, I was to stand in front of them and overpower them by crying, "LULAC! LULAC! LULAC!" I thought this was a pretty fun job and I was actually hoping for some heckling, but to my dismay, there were none. Therefore, my responsibilities changed to: stand in the corner of the ballroom, where I had an amazing view of everything, and watch. Which is what I did. Granted, my feet were killing me but that was not going to kill the enthusiasm. When McCain came on, I started inching myself up to the front since my responsibilities were clearly over and as he finished his speech, he came around the front of the stage and shook mine and Eric's (a friend who was assigned by someone unrelated to LULAC to hold a McCain sign for the cameras) hand. Soon after, the media fled in and I decided to flee before getting crushed.


At this point, ALL of us were starving. We didn't know if lunch was going to be provided and earlier, we were told that they "would figure something out." That usually translates into, "Go to the vending machines and fend for yourselves" so understandably, we were pretty bummed out UNTIL Juan Carlos, another member of LULAC, told us to find any empty chairs at any table and eat!! How amazing was that...here we were, starving & poor students, eating a $1000 plated lunch...for FREE. Yes, we got some looks and the food wasn't amazing, but who were we to complain? It was still tasty and free and absolutely spectacular :-)

(By the way, I'm not endorsing anyone here...just taking a picture)
After that, we kind of waited around until the next event was set to occur. We had a few duties in between as security did a sweep (as you can imagine, there was high security everywhere with secret services and hotel security outnumbering us 8:1) . Then, we got ready for Obama. This time, my responsibility was to stand by the stairs which were right next to the ballroom, and look for any suspicious guests who may have slipped through security. If none of them had tickets or tags, I was to report them to security immediately. Again, to my dismay, there was no action and everyone looked safe...darn. It's interesting to see the difference in crowds. The age, enthusiasm, lifestyles...they were all different for Obama's speech. Nonetheless, the ballroom filled quickly and soon enough, my responsibilities were over, so I sat down and got ready to spring to the front after Obama's speech. Mayor Villaraigosa of Los Angeles was there and introduced Obama. He and Obama make a great team of wonderful speakers. Parties and ideals aside, Obama is a darn good speaker. Of course it's rehearsed and practiced over and over again, but the way he delivers it sure gets the crowd pumping. As I sensed his speech closing, I, again, slowly made my way to the front. When he finished, he did the same as McCain and greeted those at the front of the stage. Unfortunately, for Obama, I didn't get there on time. I didn't shake his hand but I was pretty close and got some great photos. And this time, the media was a little more aggressive than McCain's. They came swarming in and almost demolished my human existence but thankfully, I slipped out.



After Obama's speech, everyone swarmed outside and had their cameras ready. I decided to do the same. I wasn't sure what was going on. I didn't know if we were waiting for Obama to greet all of us or if we were just waiting to see him drive away. For about 15 minutes, I just watched the Secret Services be stealth and cool. I mean, they kind of had to since we were in the very spot where Reagan was shot. With so many people watching outside of the hotel, across the street, inside the hotel, they needed to be on high alert. Finally, the garage door closed which meant that Obama was getting into the car. All that waiting and anticipation was just a quick hand wave from Obama in the air from the overly tinted Suburban. The only photo I got was of the crowd waiting...

After all was said and done, we made our way home and raved about how amazing the opportunity was. I was really excited and proud of myself for taking this opportunity to see the presidential candidates speak (even meeting one of them) in DC. I felt like a true Washingtonian. Later that night, on CNN, what do you think they had on TV? None else than the speeches of McCain and Obama at the LULAC conference. I smiled wryly to myself, thinking, "I was there."

The next day, it was just an ordinary day at work...I am officially the journalism intern as I post weekly blogs and do research on other news sites/blogs. This week I'm writing a blog in response to Jonah Goldberg's column about Obama's speech on national service (http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-goldberg8-2008jul08,0,191144,print.column). Anyway, after work, I went to Maryland for their weekly "Jazz in the Park." We went last week and it was great but we were a little late and had no idea it was outdoors. My roommates and some friends decided to have a picnic and pack some stuff to take. Unfortunately, when we got there, it had been pouring so the park cleared out. Instead, the string quartet performed inside of this beautiful home that was converted into an art gallery. It reminded me of home in a lot of ways. There was a Victorian feel to it...however, what this house was missing was the "home" feeling to it--the kids running around, the love, warmth, etc. Apparently, there are a lot of weddings there which is absolutely a wonderful place to have a wedding. Despite the Wednesday's weather, the park and all around it is lush greenery...just gorgeous.

After listening to the music for awhile, we decided to take a walk around the park because the rain had stopped. Guess what I saw? FIRE FLIES!!! This was my first time seeing them and it was sooo much fun...I've read about them in children's books but it was so so so neat to see them in person. This probably makes me sound so naive but it really is a cool thing to see in person. After my amazement subsided, I soon realized that there were A LOT and as girly as it may sound, I ran around screaming. If you don't know: I HATE bugs. I don't even like butterflies because the other side of their bodies are so ugly. And back in 9th grade, I had to pin 30 insects to a cardboard for a Biology project...it was truly a scarring experience. Other than the bugs, though, the walk was wonderful :-) (PS- I'll post pictures of my walk later...they are on my friend's camera)

This concludes another long blog posting...I hope you enjoyed my presidential and fireflying experience :-P

Until next time...ciao!

3 comments :

Anonymous said...

Wow! How exciting. I found myself experiencing the emotions you describe as the events unfolded in your writing. As much as we miss you, I see how quickly time is flying so I hope you take every opportunity that comes your way. I am filling my August calendar already and that makes me realize it's only a short time before you're back to the daily school and work routine. Have fun, fun, fun as dad would say.

Mom

Anonymous said...

I'm jealous. Continue to have fun but always take care and come home safe.

Uncle David

John Hahm said...

hey, Im john
dad gave me the blogger address so,
i visited ur blog!
as usual, i miss you a lot hehe
im sure you do too
and rite now im at malaysia studying during my summer vacation . Next year im becoming a highskooler lol
wish me luck
and good luck for you!!