Tanzania Two Years Later

Today I attended The Social Good Summit ‪#‎2030NOW‬ in NYC. The focus was on discussing ways we can impact global change on many issues like climate change, LGBT and women’s rights, poverty, and more with famous speakers. It was moving and inspiring and I hope to return next year to see the impact and progress we’ve made.

Today also marks my second anniversary of arriving in Moshi, Tanzania. The experience and people I met along my journey changed my perspective on the world and life, my view on other cultures, and inspired me to be a more grateful and positive person. It showed me that the true meaning of wealth comes from happiness and gratitude, not money or status. I saw first-hand what it is like to live in an impoverished country and live without clean water or proper resources.

I would do it all again in a second. I miss everyone I met and think about them all the time. It’s hard to imagine that my kids are two years older now. I still picture them exactly how they were when I left. I often wonder how and what they’re doing. 

The summit reminded me that there is a lot that needs to be done and I want to continue to be a voice for those who cannot speak. I know that volunteering and helping to provide an education for my kids was vital and made a difference in their lives.

Volunteering and working to impact global change not only makes a difference in their lives, but it changes the volunteer’s life, too. I know that these kids and teachers significantly impacted and changed my life in ways words really can not describe and I truly hope we continue to make a positive difference in this world.

Volunteering in Moshi, Tanzania
Volunteering in Moshi, Tanzania

Thanks to All The Amazing Women Out There

Thank you to all you amazing, courageous, beautiful, strong, and motivational women out there for being YOU. Not only do you encourage me daily, you inspire people all around.  Keep it up!

And a personal shout out to all the amazing women in my life. Thank you for inspiring me to be a better person, to honor and stay true to myself, and for helping me to be the strong, independent woman I am. I am so grateful and fortunate to have you in my life. Thank you.

Be sure to support and give a shout out to all the important women in your life, today.

Happy International Women’s Day. Yesterday was a tremendous victory for women everywhere when President Obama passed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). This historic change will help us take on the challenges of tomorrow and will provide protections for LGBT victims of violence, better prevention and education programs for sexual assault on university campuses, and expanded services for victims of sexual assault. We’re making wonderful advancements and I’m proud of our progress!

Live Tweeting the State of the Union from the White House

I’ve lived in DC for only 12 days and already I’ve been inside the White House compound to be selected as part of an elite group of social media members to take part in The White House State of the Union Social.

I was selected as one of the 100 social media members to watch an enhanced screening of President Obama’s State of the Union Address live from the White House. Following the screening, we participated in a panel discussion with Administration policy advisors about the visions and policies presented during the speech. Really, is there a better “Welcome to DC” experience than hanging out with the executive branch in the White House compound?

Security was more disorganized than I expected but a lot less invasive, too. Thank goodness it was a beautiful winter night because they had us wait outside for 45 minutes. Security took our ID’s twice at separate gates while we waited for security clearance and to get our badge. Me, being the girl who makes friends and talks to everyone everywhere I go, met two girls while we waited outside. Turns out, one of the girls was likely in my recruitment group Freshman year at Indiana. It’s such a small world, isn’t it?

Once we got clearance, they directed us to the Eisenhower Executive Office. While we were waiting for President Obama to begin, I took a picture with the White House sign.

Sara and I just wanted a photo together with the White House sign but what we got was my favorite photo of the night. It was a complete coincidence and just good timing that this happened:

Oh you know, just the President looking down over us
Oh you know, just POTUS looking down on us

Once the State of the Union Address began, we all whipped out our devices and the tweeting and social media frenzy commenced. The Enhanced Broadcast was streamed live on the website but actually physically being in the room was an awesome experience. Despite the wifi being ridiculously slow, the energy in the room was exciting and electric and I felt like I was somebody to be. People reacted, laughed and clapped in unison. And together, we shared our experience with our followers. While on a bit of a delay for online viewers, the Enhanced Broadcast really made watching the SOTU so much more interesting. I don’t think I’ll ever watch on CNN again. (I hear they had split screens for the shooting?) They had infographics and factoids and all kinds of cool images. We were encouraged to take pictures and get our followers involved (obviously, that is why we were there.)

When discussing equality and equal pay, the Enhanced Broadcast showed the meme of the President and Mckayla Maroney doing the “Not Impressed” face together. Clearly they aren’t impressed by unequal opportunities and believe in equal rights for all. Between hosting the White House Social and the simple act of including the meme in the broadcast, it showed me that the administration is embracing change and social media and is accepting of the fact that things are evolving. It shows me progress. It shows me that our country isn’t rigid and stubborn and set in our pre-historic ways. It shows me that we will advance, not regress. It shows me that they are tuned into what is going on in the world outside of the political agenda.

Social media offers a way for everyday citizens to interact with the Administration and policy advisors, with The First Lady or POTUS, with celebrities and peers. It puts us all on even playing ground and gives the silent a voice. To be able to interact in this way is what makes social media so unique and impactful. This Administration is utilizing social media and giving citizens a way to be heard through things like State of the Union Social and an initiative called Citizens Respond. With Citizens Respond, you can go online to read the SOTU speech, dissect it line by line and discuss it with the President. This isn’t the first presidential address to the nation online as Clinton first did it back in June 2000. But it is just the beginning of social media playing a role in such monumental national and international events.

While delivering the SOTU, the President showed he is one of the greatest public speakers of our time. He showed that he is personable, playful and lighthearted. I like that even though the President was discussing very serious matters, he was able to make light of some situations by cracking a few witty jokes and smiling. His casualness through comments like, “Good job, Joe” or “Germans are job ready by HS graduation. Let’s do that.” or regarding climate change “send me that bill, Why would we be against that?” or even pushing fathers to be more than a sperm donor but to actually care to raise the child, really make me like him more. He showed his personality and as a citizen, I appreciate that about him.

Sotu13

The panel afterwards wasn’t so much of us participating as it was us asking questions and having the policy advisors answer them. There were too many questions (from in the room and online via Facebook, Google +, Twitter etc) and not enough time. I had a couple of questions prepared but never got the opportunity to ask them aloud.

It was such an amazing and unique experience to be a part of. So, for those that follow my personal Twitter account, I am sorry I’m not sorry for infiltrating your feeds with #SOTU #WHSocial tweets. I am so grateful that I was selected to be apart of this special group. I won’t share all of them here, but here are some of my favorite or most ReTweeted tweets from last night:

climate change

Chris Hardball tweetPOTUS is a funny man

minimum wageto be a dad - potusdeserve a voteScreen shot 2013-02-13 at 12.42.20 PMmarriage equality

Side notes or factoids that the Enhanced Broadcast shared or :

  • We saw 645k tweets last year and 1.1 million today during #SOTU Way to make history!
  • There were 24,000 tweets per minute during the #guncontrol portion of the #SOTU
  • I applaud the notion that President Obama wants to put our nation’s interests before the party agenda. This got the evenings first standing ovation.
  • I’m impressed that cyber security got a mention in the speech.

And I’m famous! But I sure hope that wasn’t my 15 minutes of fame. I was caught live on camera during the online Enhanced Broadcast #WHchat after the speech. It is proof I was paying attention and not picking my nose, incessantly tweeting or doing anything embarrassing. See me?! I guess my, “I’m paying attention” face makes me look very serious. I’ve got to work on that one…I'm famous at SOTU

I am honored that I got selected to be apart of this social media event. I can’t help but feel like my efforts as a community manager and social media member have been successful at making an impact on others. Being at this event made me so extremely proud that we reelected @barackobama. America, you like some weird stuff and I don’t always agree, but man, you got this one right! I am optimistic that the next four years will bring great progress and change. I think we are going to see tremendous outcry over controversial things, but I believe we are advancing and evolving as a nation, and  we are finally heading in the right direction.

 

Presidential Election Night 2012

Much of this post you probably already know but I wanted to document all the landmark changes that occurred and the very inspiring victory speech that Obama gave.

*****

Unless you live under a rock, you know that last night was Election Night here in America.Whether you voted for Romney or Obama, you voted. You made your voice heard. You did make a difference. You exercised your right as a US citizen and you voted. For that, I am pleased. We are lucky we live in a democracy where citizens can have a say in our government. And that is what makes America wonderful.

As of this being published, votes have been counted in 75% of the nation’s precincts. Of the 99 million votes cast, Obama led the popular vote by about 25,000. He also won the electoral votes 303-206.

No matter who it is, I always feel bad for the guy who doesn’t win. It is hard to watch the pain and sadness in the concession speeches. Romney has campaigned since 2007 and has spent billions of dollars only to come up short. It is never fun to be the loser, especially in such a public race. My heart does go out to him.

It was a very historic night. Not only did we re-elect President Obama, the first black man to be re-elected to a second term but nationwide, monumental changes were happening immediately as states were called. . Across the nation, it was ladies night. It was a bad night for guys with ridiculous views on rape but a fabulous night for women everywhere. Women can breathe knowing that all the progress we have made on women’s rights didn’t take 10 steps back. With the President’s win, my lady bits came out of hiding. So much relief there. Wisconsin elected the first openly gay person (a woman!) to Senate. There are now 19 women in the Senate. This makes me so proud to think of how far we have come. Voters in Maine and Maryland approved ballot measures making same-sex marriage legal! Colorado, Washington state legalized marijuana and Massachusetts passed it for medicinal purposes. Big Bird can go back to work on public television.

The Victory Speech: Man, was this thing a gem. Even if you didn’t vote for Obama, you have to admit that his speech was eloquent, fantastic and extremely inspiring. He truly is the greatest speaker of our generation. This speech renewed my sense of hope and made proud to call him our President. This is what our country is about.What a great way to kick off a second term.

Some of my favorite quotes:

  • “At the end of the night, we all must all unite now and face the next four years together.”
  • “We are an American family, and we rise or fall together as one nation and as one people.”
  • “I want to thank every American who participated in this election.  Whether you voted for the very first time, or waited in line for a very long time, by the way, we have to fix that. Whether you pounded the pavement or picked up the phone, whether you held an Obama sign or a Romney sign, you made your voice heard and you made a difference.” I love that he acknowledged everyone not just his voters, and the importance of voting.
  • “Michelle, I have never loved you more. I have never been prouder to watch the rest of America fall in love with you too as our nation’s first lady.” Yes! I love that he is family man and treats his wife with respect and equality. 
  • President told his daughters, sorry, “one dog is probably enough.” He is funny, too!
  • “Democracy in a nation of 300 million can be noisy and messy and complicated… That won’t change after tonight. And it shouldn’t. These arguments we have are a mark of our liberty, and we can never forget that as we speak, people in distant nations are risking their lives right now just for a chance to argue about the issues that matter– the chance to cast their ballots like we did today.” Yes! THIS. This is what makes America beautiful. 
  • “But that common bond is where we must begin. Our economy is recovering. A decade of war is ending. A long campaign is now over.”
  • “Whether I earned your vote or not, I have listened to you. I have learned from you. And you’ve made me a better president.”
  • “The role of citizens in our democracy does not end with your vote. America’s never been about what can be done for us; it’s about what can be done by us together…That’s the principle we were founded on.”
  • “I have always believed that hope is that stubborn thing inside us that insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us so long as we have the courage to keep reaching, to keep working, to keep fighting. “So well said. This goes so far beyond politics…
  • “I believe we can keep the promise of our founding, the idea that if you’re willing to work hard, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from or what you look like or where you love. It doesn’t matter whether you’re black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, abled, disabled, gay or straight. You can make it here in America if you’re willing to try.” Yes! Yes! This a thousands times over, yes! Exactly this. This is what America is about and why I am proud to call him my President. 
  • “We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are, and forever will be, the United States of America.” AMAZING! so well said. Reminding us to put party lines and individual goals aside and work together.

You can find the transcript of the speech here.

Even if you are against his tax or health care plans, you can’t deny the power of this speech and the supportive messages that he sends. It isn’t fair to think that the mess Bush left him could be completely fixed in only 4 years, so I am glad he has another 4 years to continue to rebuild this country. Now if only President Clinton could run again next…

I am so proud to call this man our 44th President.