Friday, July 23, 2010
When my grandfather was in school there was an essay contest to meet the president. The entire school participated. When the contest was over he found out that he had won. Sadly, he was not able to meet the president. A Caucasian child was chosen although their essay was not the best, but because in that day, it was unimaginable to see a young black boy meet such a prestigious person like the president for something positive like an essay contest. Years later my grandfather told his story and someone listened. He was interviewed and it was written in the paper. Days later, my grandfather received a call from the white house. The current president at the time, Bill Clinton, wanted to meet my grandfather to get a picture with him. He was ecstatic. He, along with his wife and my father, got to go to the white house and meet the president. My mother also got a picture with the president for being “in the right place at the right time” and stumbling across the opportunity. The thought of me, Rose Chantal Porter, Wilmington Delaware resident, African American girl, nothing special to anybody but another number on a national level, was blessed by the American Auxiliary to be chosen to go to Girls Nation 2010, and have the immense privilege to meet the president of the United States of America today.
If someone had told me that this summer I was going to meet the president, make over 100 new best friends that I truly love, learn new ideas and values that some of these girls hold so dear to them, and have doors of opportunity open up as wide as they did this past week, I would not believe a word. The girls here chosen for Girls Nation are all so bright, intelligent and privileged. I am just a small city girl, with the support and motivation from my 11th grade English teacher, Lisa Coburn, that was able to stumble across this opportunity.
I am not my schools valedictorian. I am not a straight A+ student. I am not in every club in my school and I am not the captain of a sports team. I don’t know everything there is to know about parliamentary procedure and never in my wildest dreams did I think I could ever become the next United States president. I am not the best writer, singer, poet or person. However, throughout my experience here at Girls Nation, I have learned something so life changing to me and hopefully to others. I learned that if you surround yourself by greatness, it will rub off onto you and you will grow into a greater person. I learned that an African American girl all the way from Delaware could become best friends with a southern blonde from Florida in a matter of days. I learned how to truly respect the soldiers working hard each day to protect my nation. I learned about how many people work tirelessly behind the scenes to provide citizens like myself the little things. I learned to never be so intimidated by others to the point that my voice isn’t heard. Everyone’s’ voice is equal. Everyone has an equal chance to be great. We are all just people and all the people like me want is to be good but the good people envy those better. The better people fear failing and the ones that failed only tried to be great. But the greats fear nothing.
To me, Obama fears nothing. If not he as a person, but as a symbol, Obama, my president, will never fear anything. He is the symbol of those who for years could not fathom an African American president. He is the symbol for the slave that cried screams of oppression and pain. He is the symbol for the nation that change can happen and that through any bad situation, there is light. He symbolizes strength, determination, and hopefully one day, Obama can symbolize me. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that I would take a picture with the president. It means so much to me I know there is not one word that can truly describe the amount of excitement that came over me when he entered the room. Sadly, I did not get my hug or chance to have a picture just me and him together, but today has put me in the right direction. Years ago when my grandfather wrote that winning essay has put me in the right direction. Someday I hope I get to have my picture with the president, but as for today, I am proud and honored to have been able to take one with my other Girls Nation attendants, the amazing staff, the phenomenal national president of the American Legion Auxiliary Rita Navarreté, who for 64 years, has watched Girls Nation grow and turn girls into young ladies.
–Rose C. Porter Girls State Senator representing Delaware.