On Friday, October 31, 2014, three #BVPHighSchool scholars visited Rhode Island College to hear President Obama address a capacity crowd. Here are our thoughts from this historic event. Special thanks to President Carriuolo and Mr. Pacheco at RIC for inviting us!
Before the guest of honor ever addressed the crowd at Rhode Island College, we had a lengthy and tedious wait in chilly weather. It might seem like an unlikely way for three high school scholars to spend Halloween, but we were waiting for the President: Barack Obama! As the man behind us said, “I will only stand for two and a half hours to hear the President speak.” We agree!
We genuinely did not mind sticking around for this once in a lifetime opportunity. Plus, the wait was not really all that bad (except for the legs cramps). We got to see some of the most influential people in Rhode Island, like up-and-coming politicians and educational leaders. We even had the opportunity to hear some of their views while they made small talk in the VIP section. It was an honor just to stand among those people. What really interested us was listening to their concerns and realizing that even famous people have regular people problems!
When President Obama stepped on the podium, he looked delighted and seemed cool, calm, and collected. He gave off a welcoming energy, but at the same time he had a look in his eyes that said, “I am here to do business.” President Obama spoke about the challenges facing women in the United States. American women are privileged to be treated with higher respect and given more options than in other countries. President Obama, however, wanted us to know that women are still being paid less for doing the same work as men, that some companies do not provided maternity leave for new moms, and that many women have to choose between a career and their family.
President Obama’s tone then became more serious and a fire sparked in his eyes. He told us about the trials that his mother experienced as a single parent and the obstacles that his grandmother encountered in her career in banking. This sensitive subject suddenly became personal for the president. As he shared these personal stories, the energy in the room was almost tangible. Here and there you could hear audience members shouting with jubilee: “Amen,” “I agree!”
President Obama touched on an issue that many Rhode Islanders, especially working women, had been waiting to hear. It was a pleasure to be standing there in that audience and we are extremely grateful for the opportunity that Rhode Island College and Blackstone Valley Prep gave us to hear this all firsthand!