Friday, January 30, 2009
Coming to college is like entering into another world. Meeting new people, seeing new things, and even hearing new ideas, it’s hard to fit in right away.
American University is no exception. Ranked among the top politically active schools in the nation, people from across the seas or across the country have been forced to discover themselves in a way they never have before.
“There’s a lot of different…interesting people”, says Lauren Heinz, an American University student. But her slight hesitation quickly fades away as she finally comes to the conclusion, “But I like it here”.
A conservative girl from Long Island, Heinz says that it definitely was an awakening to see such a liberal campus. “Everyone was the same on Long Island. We all dressed the same, and for the most part thought the same, but American forces you to think about what you like”.
Getting involved has helped ease the transition for Heinz. Cheering and Club Gymnastics at AU both help bring a happiness she found on Long Island to AU as well.
“There is definitely not as much spirit here”, says Heinz. “But we have definitely seen an increase from last year…well at least at the boy basketball team that is.”
Last year the Boys American University Basketball Team made its debut at the NCAA after finishing in first place in the Patriot League. It was an exciting time for everyone at AU, bringing a whole new sort of spirit to be revealed.
But the men’s basketball team isn’t the only one worth cheering for anymore, as the cheerleaders themselves head into the spotlight. “We are even competing this year for the first time in AU history”, Heinz says of the AU Cheer Squad.
“I’ve definitely changed a lot since I came to AU. I didn’t even realize how much I liked D.C. until I came here”.
Happiness it out there, we just have to find it. And with this happiness comes a whole new way of life.
President Barack Obama was sworn into office on Tuesday January 20th and Dan O’Neal couldn’t be happier.
“He’s a rockstar. He’s a great speaker. He’s smart. He’s intelligent. He’s surrounded himself with good people,” said O’Neal.
The resident of Gilbert, Ariz. flew to Washington D.C. with the Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) to take part of the historic inauguration of the 44th president. O’Neal works for the PDA as the Arizona State Coordinator where he “oversees the chapters and the point people and the legislative stuff.”
The grassroots organization founded in 2004 aims to revitalize the Democratic Party by seeing to it that the government is “controlled by citizens, not corporate elites -- with policies that serve the broad public interest, not just private interests,” PDA’s website explains.
O’Neal came with the PDA for a national leadership conference involving congressmen and other political action committees such as Code Pink.
“It’s been an amazing turn out of democrats and progressives,” said O’Neal. “We brought together congressmen and activists and we solidified our support with the progressive caucus in congress.”
The PDA’s campaign slogan “Healthcare Not Warfare,” says it best. O’Neal and the PDA hope to see the change President Obama promised by pulling U.S. military troops out of Iraq and to “redirect the resources toward human needs including a new national healthcare plan,” explains O’Neal.
“We can take the billions of dollars we’re spending in Iraq and move it into social needs,” said O’Neal. “We can turn this country around.”
The 60 year-old knows the newly elected president has a lot of work to do. “I don’t envy him because it’s a big task especially with the economy the way it is, the worst since the depression, so he’s got a lot on his plate,” said O’Neal, “but I think its going to be an opportunity where we can start again.”
Holding a sign that read “Arrest Bush,” O’Neal walked the streets near the White House with a big grin on his face. The democratic activist is excited for a regime change and for former President Bush to leave office.
“The fact that a half hour ago George Bush left and Barack Obama is in, that makes it real special for me,” said O’Neal. “We’re having a great time. It’s a new day.”
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Crowds gather for historic moment
Crowds flock to the Mall in the early morning hours of January 20. By around 9 a.m., the space between the Capitol and the Washington Monument is full of people from all over the country and all over the world. People mingle and strike up conversations with those standing around them. Excitement and anticipation buzzes through the Mall. The crowd has gathered on the Mall to see Barack Obama take the oath of office.
Some people spread out blanks, newspapers, and sleeping bags on the ground and huddle together. Many people remain standing and some wander around seeking the best spot to watch the Inauguration on the Jumbotrons.
Debbie Shetterly, 54, sits on a blue-checkered blanket. She wears tall white boots and a ski jacket to keep warm. She surveys the vast crowds of people that surround her. People around her come and go, but she sits patiently on her blanket waiting for the Inauguration to begin. Her husband Jimmy sits next to her and takes in the scene. They watch the Jumbotrons as they replay the “We are One” Concert from Sunday.
Shetterly came from Asheville, N.C., over 450 miles south of D.C., to see Obama be sworn in as the 44th president. Shetterly said that watching this event on TV was not an option. She wanted to be part of it and to her this event “is truly remarkable.”
“You can’t experience this by sitting in front of the TV,” Shetterly said. Shetterly traveled to see the inauguration in person because it is historic and Obama impresses her.
It took Shetterly and her husband eight hours to get here, but Shetterly says “there’s nothing like been there live.” She came up from North Carolina with her co-worker and his family. Like many other out-of-towners, the Shetterlys are staying with friends for the long weekend. They arrived to the D.C. area on Saturday.
Although Shetterly has been to D.C. about four or five times, this trip is particularly noteworthy. This is the first Inauguration she has ever attended. “Barack is the most amazing person,” Shetterly said.
Shetterly believes that the United States has elected the person that will do the best job. “Finally, the United States was able to get past some of its past history and vote for the best guy instead of just who’s convenient,” said Shetterly.
By Lauren Heinz
Christine Amber Williams doesn’t like being called Christine. She one day wants to be referred to as Madam Secretary or Mrs. President but for now she chooses to go by her middle name, Amber.
The 20-year-old political science major and former student of American University joined the estimated one million people who attended the Inauguration of the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, on the national mall on Tuesday.
Amber Williams is going through many changes in her life, which is one reason why she is an Obama supporter and believes that change can be good. A political issue of importance to Williams is more affordable tuition for a college education. Recently due to the ongoing financial crisis, Williams could not take out enough student loans to attend American University, her school of choice where she wishes to pursue a career in government. As a result, Williams is now taking classes at Montgomery County Community College until she returns home over the summer to attend a state school in California
Despite going through a difficult time in her life, Williams bragged about arriving on the national mall at around five in the morning, after getting on the second train that passed through the Tenleytown metro station. The California native was not a big fan of the cold weather though.
“I’m not used to the cold, but I’m wearing many layers and lots of warm toasty stuff” Williams said.
. To Williams, this inauguration means more than a new president; it means that her vote, like the millions of other votes for Obama in the very close 2008 presidential election, is being represented.
“I am so proud to have voted for him and my voted counted...he's my president” Williams said.
For Williams, the worst part about having to return home in a few months is the distance from the political atmosphere of Washington DC. The young and enthusiastic Williams has taken advantage of the political opportunities of being in our nation’s capital by attending one of Obama’s speeches pre-election, the more recent Proposition 8 protest that was held back in November, and also the peace march that occurred in September of 2007.
“It’s good to return home to my family in Cali, but I’m leaving behind my friends here who have become family to me,” Williams said, “but I’m glad I got to be here for this historic event.”
A print-journalism major, Lasky picked AU for its of location. Coming from Chevy Chase, Maryland, Lasky wanted a nearby university for a “smoother transition for me, into college from high school,” he said.
Also important to his decision was the university's ranking as one of the area's top schools for learning disabled students; Lasky has auditory processing disorder, a problem with processing auditory information that requires a more visual learning style. An ideal environment for Lasky to cope with the disorder, AU provides extended time on tests, a note taker if required and reduced noise areas where he can take tests. “It's a good program they got here,” he said.
For Lasky, AU also offers a chance to study in Washington D.C., a city where “there's always something going on...you won't get bored,” he said. While there are other universities in the city, Lasky singled out AU as “one of the few schools in D.C. with an actual campus,” he said.
The highlight of Lasky's AU experience was when President Obama came to the campus in 2008 when Senator Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., endorsed the then contender for the democratic nomination. In what he says was the “best event I've ever been to in my life,” Lasky had the privilege to shake Obama's hand and have him tell Lasky how proud he was of the AU students and their outpouring of support. “It doesn't get any better than that,” he said.
Having taken classes with many great professors, Lasky says he has yet to have a bad one. His favorite professor was Karl Kippola in the Performing Arts department with whom he took American Society on Stage and Screen. For Lasky, Kippola “made material that would have put most people to sleep...he made it exciting.”
Nearly halfway through his college career, Lasky both is and is not looking forward to graduating and joining the larger world. “I'm having a great time here...but, you gotta do it, you can't stay here forever, this isn't...Van Wilder,” he said.
Lasky's experience at AU is one where he has met people that he will be “friends with my whole life,” he said. He has had “great professors, that truly cared about their students doing well, they weren't out to get you...I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.”
Age: 20, from Chevy Chase, MD
American University Student
Friday, January 23, 2009
The Obama Experience
Jessie Himmelstern was one of an estimated two million people who flocked to Washington, DC, for the epic inauguration of Barack Obama. She braved the icy, freezing city at one a.m. on January 20th, with hopes of seeing her first presidential inauguration and, more importantly, witnessing Obama take the Presidential Oath live. What was Himmelstern’s main reason for attending the inauguration? “The experience. It was purely for the experience. I’m in DC right now; I won’t be here in four years. It’s a huge deal. I mean… It’s Obama.”
Himmelstern is a resident of Bogotá, Colombia, and attends American University in the Washington, DC, area. Due to the fact that she isn’t a full time resident Himmelstern could not legally vote for Obama. But, that didn’t squash or sway her passion for him. The enthusiasm of everyone around her and her group helped everyone keep their spirits up, for the most part. “People tried to crowd past us and when we wouldn’t let them, there was a lot of yelling,” she explained. It’s not surprising they wouldn’t budge. The group had left ten hours before the inauguration was to begin; they fought to keep their good spot.
Something she wasn’t expecting from the inauguration was how many people she would meet. There was a group of people near her company that was comprised of students from all over the country. One guy even began rapping for everyone to pass the time. “He wasn’t very good,” she said, laughing. She said it got really emotional when some people near her began to cry. However, when people were booing President Bush, she was really offended. “It’s just rude,” she said. “He’s gone now, just let him leave.”
Himmelstern said seeing the inauguration live was an experience like none other, but it was almost ruined by the trip home. From what she could see, DC was in a state of complete disarray. “No one knew what was going on. Police were directing us to streets that were closed, people were walking under bridges, over highways. Everyone just had the lost look on their face.”
However, to Himmelstern, the cold was by far the worst thing she experienced. “It was even worse than the fake rapper. I’m from Columbia, and lived in Florida after that. I can barely deal with this weather!” She said at one point she had convinced herself it was snowing (something else she’s never seen in real life) because it was so cold. “But, no. I had just gone numb. At least I got to see Obama.”
An estimated 1.8 million people braved the massive crowds and sub-zero temperatures to witness the inauguration of President Barack Obama on Tuesday, January 20. Sherlita Queen, like many others, began making her way downtown as early as 4:15 a.m. The 51-year-old resident of College Park, Md., was one of 15,000 people chosen to volunteer at this year’s inauguration. “I wanted to serve my country,” said Queen. “I wanted to be part of this great historic event.”
Queen and other volunteers were told that they were a select few as 80,000 people applied to volunteer at the festivities. She answered questions, greeted visitors and directed traffic from the 12th Street entrance of the National Mall. All the while, Queen made sure to bask in her surroundings, taking a mental record of the historic event. “The atmosphere was electric,” said Queen. “It felt like New Year’s Eve.”
Supporters filed into the National Mall from the Capitol building to the Lincoln Memorial. An emotional crowd cheered and cried as the 44th president of the United States was sworn into office. Queen found personal triumph in an Obama presidency. “I want my children to have an opportunity to feel that they can achieve anything that they were created to do,” said Queen, “without feeling slighted because of the color of their skin.”
Janell Seay, a Miami native, booked a ticket to Washington to celebrate the inauguration and her birthday on Tuesday. “This was the best birthday gift I ever received,” Seay said. She thought the event was well organized and ran smoothly.
However, inaugural planners did not escape criticism. Barbara Jacobson, 54, was a silver ticket holder from Nashville, Tenn. Many silver, purple and blue ticket holders reported the lines were long and confusing. Some spent hours in line only to find their area closed due to overcrowding. “I didn’t get to see much of it,” said Jacobson. “I think I will probably have to go buy a DVD or rent a DVD to see the actual ceremony.”
Despite the confusion, most deemed this year’s inauguration a success. Queen, Seay and Jacobson did not rule out the possibility of attending future inaugurations. Although they come from different parts of the nation, they each said they have taken something special away from their experience. “He’s going to be the president for everyone,” said Seay. “He’s bringing the whole nation together.” Given the diverse population attending the inauguration, Seay’s statement certainly rang true.
Watch Barbara Jacobson talk about her inaugural experience.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Beverly Ezeokoli battled the wind among a crowd of thousands of people. The 50-year-old had traveled all the way from
As an African-American public servant, she has found Obama to be very inspiring. “Obama is engaging and willing to listen to the people,” Ezeokoli said. “He has reminded me of JFK’s famous quote, ‘ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.’”
Since the very beginning of Obama’s campaign, Ms. Ezeokoli has strived to help as much as possible. “I believed since 2004,” Ezeokoli said. “This man will move mountains."
As a young girl, she grew up in
Her service and dedication to the public transcended where she worked. Her service reached the political arena when she campaigned for Bill Clinton during the former presidents first run for the white house. Though she devoted much time to
And the chilly DC weather did not stop
On her return to the
Jan. 23, 2009
Early on Tuesday morning, AU exchange student Toji Morimoto found himself participating in something he never thought he would do. No, it was not simply attending a presidential inauguration. It was being involved in politics at all.
“I’m kind of surprised in the U.S. that everyone is so interested in politics, because in Japan, young people, like most of the people, doesn’t care about politics,” Morimoto said.
Shivering amongst the throngs of people crowding the National Mall, he looks much shorter than his 6 foot tall frame. Nevertheless, the guy still sticks out. He is one of the only people in the crowd not wearing a single article of Obama paraphernalia.
“I do not care much [about politics],” Morimoto said.
Morimoto, a Kyoto native who is half Japanese and half Puerto Rican, is currently experiencing his second of four semesters at AU as an exchange student majoring in film. After his sophomore year, he plans to return to Kyoto to finish his college degree at Ritsumeikan University.
The 19-year-old said that he enjoys channeling his creative side by filming and editing movies with his friends.
“I act whatever I want if I think it is virtue,” Morimoto said. “I tend to express myself a lot to people.”
Morimoto’s creative side is perhaps most noticeably revealed through his choice of hair style. Precisely teased, gelled and swept to the side (with thin auburn highlights and one lock permanently flopped over his left eye), his tresses are always well maintained, even after being exposed to the harsh winds at the inauguration for multiple hours.
Conversely, Morimoto said that Obama’s look is better kept clean and polished.
“From a visual perspective, I think his appearance is very symbolical and has power to unite diversity in U.S.,” he commented.
So why did he wake up at 5 a.m. to stand in the blistering wind for over six hours if he doesn’t care for politics? Because everyone was going, Morimoto said bluntly.
“I thought it [the inauguration] was going to be very crowded, so I wasn’t expecting too much,” he said. “I wish I could see Obama’s face in real, but at least I can tell my Japanese friends that I was there and stuff.”
For many Americans, January 20, 2009 will be remembered as a day for celebration. It was a day where millions gathered around their television sets in anxious anticipation to watch the dawn of a new era in the United States, the inauguration of Barack Obama, the first African-American President of the United States of America. Out of the teaming masses who watched in triumph, 1.8 million will be able to say they watched in bitter cold and braved throngs and living walls of people as they watched the inauguration in person, or at least as in person as they could from hundreds of yards away, spread out from the steps of the Capital across the Mall all the way to the Lincoln Memorial, two miles away.
Setting out in the dark and bitter cold before the sun began to even hint at its ascension, American University student Wade Smith, 20, went for a simple reason, because he could. “It's the inauguration and I was here so I might as well go,” Smith said. Wrapped tightly in his coat, Smith felt the cold and early hour march to the metro stop was worth it. Years from now, this will be a moment he can look back on fondly and say, I was there.
Like many, Smith went for Barack Obama. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to hear him speak and celebrate his presidency. For Smith, under different circumstance the inauguration would not have spurred his early morning venture into the cold had the November, 4, 2008 Presidential election gone differently. “I don't like McCain,” Smith said.
While just another inauguration for its procedure, something that has been done 55 times before, Smith also identified the inauguration as something truly special. “It's the first African American president and its a time of great economic issues and all other stuff,” Smith said.
Smith had high hopes for the event and for Obama's speech, one he expected to wax eloquent with “stuff about change, stuff about responsibility, stuff about... the economic crisis,” Smith said. “I got out of bed at four in the morning to go... it better be good,” Smith said.
Phone: Preferred not to disclose
For 21-year-old Aaron Slater, attending Barrack Obama’s inauguration was an endeavour.
Leaving Southeastern Pennsylvania Monday in the middle of a snowstorm, Slater and a friend drove for hours to make it to Washington by the night. The pair cheerfully braved traffic coming into the city, two nights on a friend’s floor, and Tuesday’s early morning cold just for a chance to see Obama be sworn in as president.
The trip meant taking three days off from work and his studies as a History and Government major at Franklin and Marshall College. However, Slater was nothing but excited at the chance to make the trip.
“I felt like it was a historic moment, and I wanted to be a part of American history,” said Slater of his decision to make the trek. He said that, while he had never watched or cared about an inauguration before, he felt that this one was special.
“First black president,” he said with a shrug.
While his hometown of Lancaster and his campus at Franklin and Marshall College may have largely supported McCain, Slater said that he and his family were proud to vote for Obama. Slater worked on his campaign as a volunteer through the primaries, campaigning in what has been a red county. It was this volunteer work and how inspired he felt by Obama that led him to make the trip to see the inauguration.
Slater’s family was pleased that he had the opportunity to make the trip, supporting his decision to take time off from work and school. He said that he was grateful to have had a place to stay and a parking space in Washington.
As a History and Government major, Slater said that he’s particularly pleased to be able to see this moment- no classroom can compare to being a part of history. Slater will be able to return with a unique perspective on this moment.
Slater noted that he was surprised at the lack of security around the monument. His friend drove back to Pennsylvania to retrieve his wallet and I.D., only to find that there was no one checking the massive influx of people onto the National Mall.
Slater said that what he wanted most from the inauguration was to see in person Obama’s famous oratory ability, and to hear an inspiring speech like the ones that typified his campaign.
He added, “Whoo! Obama!”
Monday, January 12, 2009
http://www.journalism.org/resources/principles, the ASNE Statement of Principles http://www.asne.org/kiosk/archive/principl.htm, and Bill Kovach’s words to the wise http://www.journalism.org/resources/advice_to_students