Tag Archive | "People to People"

Amanda Gleeson

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The Pierson High School ninth-grader, who went to the Inauguration of President Barack Obama in the Nation’s Capital, even while sporting a pair of crutches. Gleeson was asked to be a student leader and treated to the event by the organization People to People.

 

Amanda, you were certainly a very lucky girl to be able to participate in an event as historic as the Inauguration of President Barack Obama, what was the energy like down there?

There was a lot of clapping and cheering of course and then George Bush would come on and screen and everybody would boo, so it was like people really reacted.

 

From what we saw back people were standing very close to one another, either for warmth or because there were so many people attending. Was it really overcrowded everywhere?

Apparently there was something like five million people there, well a bit less than that. There was a lot of pushing and shoving and it took us an hour to get back to our bus, at least.

 

Where were you located during the speech? Where were you standing and how far were you from President Barack Obama?

We actually couldn’t see him, he was by the Lincoln memorial and we were facing the Capital Building so we were a bunch of people away. But we still got the same experience, we could still see everything and hear everything from the giant screens that they had up.

 

You were able to go with the People to People Organization, who are the ones that sponsored your trip. How many people were in the group that you went with?

In the whole entire People to People there are about 2500 kids. In my hotel there are about 200 to 300 and in my bus there are about 50 and in my group there are about 11.

 

Was there anything that President Barack Obama said that really affected you or made you think about your generation in the near future?

There was one thing he said, it was a country doesn’t judge its people on what they destroy, but what they build. I thought that was really interesting, because a lot of people probably never really thought of it that way.

 

How did President Obama’s speech make you feel afterwards? And how do you feel about the direction he intends to take the nation?

I am excited a bit. I never really liked George Bush. I think that Obama is going to do really great things for our country. And even some of my friends that are Republican are a little bit more excited after hearing his speech today, and they support him a little bit more. I thought that was very interesting.

 

There were a few topics that President Obama talked about that affect the nation as a whole, but if you could choose one thing to change over the next four years, under Obama’s presidency, what would you like to see improved?

I would definitely like to see our economy go up and get a little bit better. I think everybody would like that. Also the health care needs to change as well. Basically, in general, what everybody is expecting to happen. I think that he will actually help with that.

 

Do you realize the historical significance of the event that you just witnessed? Reflecting back on the day now, what would you say about the day overall?

I guess everybody realizes that it is a big moment for everybody, even if they don’t support Obama. It is just really amazing that there is a black president now and even though everybody was complaining, even myself, about how cold it was because we got up at five in the morning. And we were standing there for like hours just waiting for him to speak, and everybody was complaining. But when he started speaking, I felt that it was completely worth it.

 

Five hours, wow, what was the conversation like for that amount of time?

It was basically like everybody complaining about how freezing it was, and that their toes were going to fall off or something.

 

Was it mostly other students that you were standing near?

Yes, but we had a team leader, that was a person who was just yelling at us to put our cell phones away.

 

How was the security there going in and out of the area?

Well, we were told there was going to be more security and that we weren’t allowed to bring backpacks or anything. But there was absolutely none where I was. It was just a free for all – everybody walked in and you could basically do whatever.

 

What was the best part of the experience with the People to People organization so far?

A lot of my friends were completely jealous that I was going, so I think everybody realized it was a great experience for me, even though it was a little bit hard, because I was on crutches the entire time, but I really wanted to stay, and I actually almost got sent home at one point, because they weren’t sure I was going to be able to walk around at the Inaugural and there was going to be a million and one people there. So I think that I was really lucky that I was able to stay. And almost leaving before the inaugural made me realize how much I wanted to see this, because it was really important.