Friday, January 23, 2009

REPORTER BLOG: The Inauguration of Project Hope United

By Julia Woehrle

I think hardly anyone could avoid President Obama's inauguration. And I'm not only talking about the U.S., I'm talking about basically our entire world. And the good news is, hardly anyone WANTED to get around the inauguration.

"A Moment in History"
Just like everyone else I have heard the reference to the event as "a moment in history" so many times by now that - sorry - but I almost can't hear it anymore. Still, I am glad that I didn't miss it either. Aren't we all glad we didn't? Didn't we all want to share this moment of hope..?

Not in Washington, but Not Alone Either...
Yes, I was relieved when I was told Tuesday: "I want you to cover the reactions to the inauguration." Just imagine, I could have missed the whole thing, because of a City Council meeting. I apologize to City Council, but no, that day, no, I wasn't interested in covering council meetings an itsy-bitsy-tiny bit. I watched the historic inauguration at the Baker Center instead.

I am a Mouse in the Face of History
And not only did I go to the Baker Center to watch the inaugration, I also had the official permit to ask people why they came and how they liked it. Reporter's privilege. So that's what I did. First of all, I was a little overwhelmed by the sheer number of interview possibilites. There were just SO MANY people there, in at least three different places watching the inaugural event with solemn faces. And it was only me and my colleague and one camera. Talking about feeling like a tiny mouse in the face of huge history in the making. But forward reporter, Julia!! Thou shalt not feel fear!!!

"So Why Have You Come Here to Watch The Inauguration?"
So timid mouse Julia turned into bold reporter Julia again and started asking people why they had chosen the Baker Center to watch the inauguration. Guess what they answered?

"It's an extremely moment in history and I wouldn't want to miss it for the world."
"It's a historic event."
"It's such an important part of our history."
"It's a moment of history."

Yes, this moment is history now and what counts is what is done in the present for the future.

Asking the Internationals
I am German, so obviously I perceived the election and inauguration of President Obama differently than a U.S. citizen would. And that's why I asked the internationals at Baker Center why they came and how they liked Obama's speech. I knew I would get answers that would be somewhat different. And we reporters are ever on the run to catch that "different" voice - the one you don't usually get to hear.

Project Hope International
Mr. Obama does not only bring change and hope to the U.S., but also to the rest of the world. He has already started to change the U.S. policy by signing the order to close the Guantanamo Bay facilities and giving the military's interrogation rules to the CIA. Those things DO have a big effect on the rest of the world: they change the way in which the rest of the world perceives and judges the U.S.

What the Internationals Expect
That's why I asked Zak Nyangau form Kenya and Sven Latzke from Germany about their take on the inauguration and what they expect of Mr. Obama in the future. And the answers I got had a slightly different tone than the American voices did. Yes, both of them were excited and happy and hopeful, but both of them also pointed out very clearly that President Obama can't change the world alone.

Zak Nyangau speaks about expectations

Isn't it Hope that Brings the Change?

Maybe Presidend Obama can't bring about change alone, but then he has already. He talks about hope and change and responsibility. He integrates all kinds of minority groups into his speeches. He manages to transmit a sense of humility on top of that. He brings that glow into people's eyes and he has made history already. I think that Mr. Obama's belief in the power of hope is his true power to bring along change, because the hope he kindles in people around the world has the power to unite them.

President Obama can't change the world alone, but he has given people around the world the hope to believe in change that is achieved by united effort and stopped their feeling of powerlessness. Now everyone has to work on the changes within him- or herself to turn the big change into reality.

Sven Latzke speaks about hope and change

I was lying on the floor of the Ping Center's group fitness room, a Yoga mat beneath me. I tried to let my mental gymnastics go while the instructor said: "Feel your body. The parts that are tight, the parts that feel particularly good today... Don't judge. Just notice how your body feels different after today's class. How it has changed. Everything is constantly changing. Nothing stays the same..."

"Yes, yes, change. Change is good. I wonder if Mr. Obama ever practiced Yoga," I think before my mental gymnastics stop and I accept the change and the emptiness in my mind.

No comments: