January 30, 2012

State of the Union (the belated edition)

Remember that one time I went to the White House Tweetup for the State of the Union last week? It was pretty awesome.

First, we waited in line.

Waiting in line.

Then, we finally made it past the gates and into the Eisenhower Executive Office Building (EEOB), where we sat down and waited for the speech to start.

Waiting for the speech to start.

We watched this version of the SOTU, with extra charts and graphs to support what the President said. 

Enhanced version of the speech

Now before I tell you what I thought of the President's speech, some important fashion announcements. First Lady Michelle Obama looked beautiful in this royal blue dress. And Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (aka one of my life heroes!) sported this sparkly headband. It took us all back to the '90's, when Secretary Clinton sported the headband look as First Lady (for which people made fun of her).

Now that we have those breaking points out of the way, may I present unto you:

My Thoughts on the State of the Union

I thought the President was smart to start out by speaking of our recent military milestones. He said, "For the first time in nine years, there are no Americans fighting in Iraq. For the first time in two decades, Osama bin Laden is not a threat to this country." As someone who remembers 09/11 (I was a senior in high school) and who has lived for her entire adult life with Americans fighting in Iraq and with the ever-present threat of Osama bin Laden, this was a big deal

I loved the President's optimism as he spoke about the American we can be. He said we flourished after WWII, and we will do it again now. Rather than summarize for you very point he made in his speech, I want to touch on the two points that stood out to me the most: Education and Immigration. 

Some of my favorite quotes from the whole speech came when the President spoke on EDUCATION, including:
  • Teachers matter.
  • A great teacher can offer an escape from poverty to the child who dreams beyond his circumstance.
  • I am proposing that every state -- every state -- requires that all students stay in high school until they graduate or turn 18. (ie- NO MORE DROPOUTS!)
  • At a time when Americans owe more in tuition debt than credit card debt (this is SO me), this Congress needs to stop the interest rates on student loans from doubling in July.
and my personal favorite:
  • Higher education can't be a luxury -- it is an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford.
The President has continually encouraged all Americans to seek education beyond high school as the key to a well-paying job. This is something my parents instilled in me from the time I was very young. Not everyone is blessed to have parents like mine, but I think it's important for us to support policies that make educational opportunities available to even more folks in this country, regardless of legal status. Which leads me to...

The President's remarks on IMMIGRATION:
  • Let us also remember that hundreds of thousands of talented, hardworking students in this country face another challenge: the fact that they aren't yet American citizens. Many were brought here as small children (like I was), are American through and through, yet they live every day with the threat of deportation... We should be working on comprehensive immigration reform right now.

    But if election-year politics keeps Congress from acting on a comprehensive plan, let's at least agree to stop expelling responsible young people who want to staff our labs, start new businesses, defend this country. Send me a law that gives them the chance to earn their citizenship. I will sign it right away.
Honestly, I was disappointed by how little the President spoke about comprehensive immigration reform and by the fact that he didn't even mention the DREAM Act by name. I know many of us are disappointed that we haven't seen any progress on any comprehensive immigration reform. I didn't get called on to ask a question during the White House administration panel following the State of the Union, but I did Tweet it to the White House:

  failed when Dems were majority. What more will  do NOW that he didn't do then to make sure it passes?

In other words, are you just talking to talk, Mr. President? What are you actually going to do about this? After the panel, I flagged down one of the panelists, Roberto Rodriguez, who is a Special Assistant to the President and member of the White House Domestic Policy Counsel (also the only Latino on the panel). I asked him my question, and all I got from him were the same soundbites we've heard before. "The President will urge Congress to pass this bill." "He thinks this is an important issue." Blah blah blah. Nothing of substance, and nothing I haven't heard before. My hopes aren't too high for this to actually be addressed, and as seen above, neither are the President's.

Thoughts on the Tweetup

In spite of my extreme disappointment with regard to immigration, I appreciated the President's speech and his vision for our country. He spoke clearly but eloquently. I was absolutely fascinated by all the forms of technology being used to transmit the speech to Americans across the country -- TV, radio, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, whitehouse.gov, etc... 


To be able to watch the event live, from the White House, with other "Tweeps," was awesome. It was incredible to monitor my Twitter feed and to see in real-time how people were responding to what the President had just said. During the speech alone, 645,631 Tweets were tweeted using the hashtag #SOTU. (This doesn't include the commentary that continued after the speech ended, and throughout this past week.) 


I commend the President and his Administration on the way they've used technology to connect to average Americans and to help us feel like we have a say in the goings-on of our government. It makes me feel like the Administration is trying to be transparent with us and like there is someone we can approach with concerns. These Tweetups are not the first time the Obama Administration has used technology to reach out (think of all they did during the campaign, the "We the People" section of whitehouse.gov, etc.) nor will it be the last (the President did "hang out" on Google an hour ago, after all). I anticipate seeing more events like this not only from the President but from other candidates in the 2012 elections, as well.

(I can't figure out how to center this image... Sorry.)
Clockwise from the top left: Me outside the EEOB, my security pass, the West Wing, me with my classmate (Emily) who works at the White House.

January 25, 2012

Ode to a (Junior Bacon) Cheeseburger

Last night, I attended the State of the Union Tweetup at the White House. It was a great experience, and I'm excited to share more about it later! Today, I'm super swamped with work and a school deadline (plus working at the Temple tonight), so I'll share an amazing anecdote instead. After hours and hours (not really, but it sure felt like it) of waiting for the metro last night post-SOTU, I finally made it back to my car just before 1am, and I was STARVING!! I decided to book it to my nearest Wendy's for a junior bacon cheeseburger, and thankfully, I made it just in time! I share my thoughts on this, for your reading pleasure, below: 


Photo brought to you by Polyvore

Ode to a JBC
(written just now by me)

You saved me in college on many late nights
from having to cook when deadlines were tight.
Last night you came through again, oh, JBC fair.
It’s been a long time, but still, you were there.
I ate you so quickly, I made record time.
Deliciously fatty, you sure blew my mind.
So thank you for saving me, dear JBC.
May I always and forever live near a Wendy’s.


(P.S. SOTU Preview- One of my Tweets got included in this article about what DC peeps were saying about the President's speech. Can you find mine? I had to hit "Page down" about 3 or 4 times to get to it.)

January 23, 2012

POTUS to deliver State of the Union TOMORROW

For those of you who may not follow the goings-on in DC as closely as I do, tomorrow (Tuesday January 24th), President Obama will be giving the annual State of the Union (SOTU) address at 9pm Eastern Time. You may or may not support President Obama, but regardless of  how you feel about him personally, I think it's important for all of us to respect him in his capacity as our President, and I feel it's important for us to be informed on what is happening in our country. I strongly encourage you to watch the State of the Union tomorrow. You can watch it on TV, or you can watch it online at whitehouse.gov. If you choose to watch it online, you'll be able to see charts and graphs that will relate to the topics the President will address. 

For a short preview of what he will discuss, watch this video:




And now for some exciting news: I was selected to attend the White House Tweetup for the State of the Union tomorrow night! 

Description: Description: Description: Description: cid:image001.jpg@01CC9FD3.61D8B650
Congratulations! You've been selected to attend the State of the Union Tweetup at the White House
Please join us for the
#SOTU #WHTweetup
Tuesday, January 24th, 2012
The White House

I love living in DC! Where else would I get the opportunity to do this? What is the WH Tweetup, you ask? 

"This Tweetup is an opportunity to watch the State of the Union live and attend a panel with administration officials immediately following the speech. During the panel, you will have the chance to ask questions about the speech and questions shared by your followers. You should plan to be at the White House from approximately 7:45 p.m EST to approximately 11:00 p.m. EST." 
Basically, it means I get to watch the SOTU from the White House tomorrow. Now the thing is the Presiden't won't actually be AT the White House, because the SOTU is actually delivered at the Capitol building before the full Congress and other guests, but shoot, if I can't watch it live from the Capitol (which is still a goal of mine, btw. SOTU 2013? Hint, hint, Hill friends! ;) Heh heh.), the White House has to be the second best place to watch it.

While we watch, we'll be Tweeting live (follow me here) with the hasthtags #WHTweetup and #SOTU. If you're on Twitter, feel free to Tweet as you watch, too. After the speech, we'll get to ask questions to a panel of White House Administration officials (so if you have any particular burning questions you want me to ask, send them to me, and I'll do my best to ask them).

Para mi mamá y mi papá (y cualquier persona que talvez no sepa mucho de Twitter), Twitter es parecido a Facebook (lean este artículo escrito acerca de Twitter por Jorge Ramos), y basicamente, mañana voy a escuchar el discurso del "Estado de la Union" en vivo desde la Casa Blanca. El Presidente Obama no va a estar allí, pero despues del discurso, va a haber una sesión de Preguntas/Respuestas con oficiales de la Casa Blanca y la Administración del Presidente. I'm excited!

P.S. Here is a picture of my sister shaking hands with the President when we got to meet him briefly at the NCLR Conference last July. This photo rocks! Alas, I have no pictures to prove I met him, too. (But then there was the other time the First Lady patted me on the head, remember? :D)


January 22, 2012

Basketball, basketball, basketball

Those of you who know me know that my athletic ability is not something for which I am known. I DO however, like having fun! So this weekend, I:


Played basketball with the Relief Society (my church women's group) team. We lost by 1 point! :(

(Pardon the blurry cell phone shot of Caitlin and me.)


and went to my first-ever GW basketball game! We played UNC-Charlotte. (Go Colonials!) I was able to talk a few friends into going with me, and we had an awesome time!

Air Force Honor Guard performing at the game

Eric, Stacie, Jeff, Melanie, Melissa, Russ 

Melanie, Jason, Tim, Ginna, Dane

Kate, Hannah, Marc, Ryan

Top Row: Becky, Sarah, Justin, Brett
Bottom Row: Kelli, April, Caitlin, Julie


Dan, Missy, Mckell, Brandon (In case you can't tell, Missy and Mckell are twins. :D)
  
I decided to jump in, too.

OK, who comes to a basketball game to study?? (Med students, that's who.) Who invited these guys anyway? (Oh, wait, I did...)

We won! Final score: 60-52

We went to Johnny Rockets after the game, where  promptly stuffed our faces with delicacies such as burgers, fries, shakes, and the highlight of the evening: bacon cheese fries! (So what if our arteries are now clogged?) 

My favorite part about last night was being able to bring together new friends and old friends, watching new friendships form, and seeing everyone having a good time. Friends are such an important part of my life right now, especially being away from family and loved ones. My first few months here were a lil' rough, because I hardly knew anyone, but I'm grateful for those who took time to be my friends.  


Oh, yeah, it also snowed in DC this weekend for the first time this winter.


That's all for now. Happy Sunday! :) Remember to be a friend to someone this week!

January 21, 2012

I have a blog

Well, I finally gave in and set up a blog. (Insert excited/nervous/anticipatory squeal!!) I often have a lot of thoughts in my head and no place to put them. Sometimes I see things that are really inspiring or learn something that is really cool. I want a place to share those things in the hopes that some of you will find them interesting, uplifting, or at least insightful. In this blog, I'll share about the things happening in my life, the things I see in other people's lives, and my thoughts on things happening in the world around me. I may wax political from time to time,  I may wax random at other times. Other times, I might be a little girly. And sometimes, I'll just share things straight from my heart. Thanks for stopping by! :)


xo,

Yándary