“Good afternoon, Mr. President.”
This is how I started the third day of my experience as a Summer Organizer in California—speaking with the President of the United States. On Tuesday, the entire class of the 2011 Summer Organizers had the privilege of joining the first national conference call to kick off the Summer Organizer Program, and the special guest was none other than Barack Obama. I was honored to be chosen to ask him a question individually, and it’s something I will never forget.
This all started this past weekend at our Summer Organizers training in Los Angeles, when we were all asked to write a question we wanted to ask the President. At the time, my initial reaction was “of course the president isn’t going to answer this question; but maybe one of the many people that work for him will read it.” Not only was I wrong, but I was shocked at the events that transpired next—President Obama was going to answer my question!
When Jeremy Bird, National Field Director, said “Let’s go to California where we have Christman on line,” I was honored to ask the president about what the most challenging aspects of one of his previous jobs was—as a community organizer.
President Obama began organizing his community on the south side of Chicago after he graduated from college. Just like me and all of the summer organizers, President Obama had to knock on doors, meet individually with people for one-on-ones, register voters, and make phone calls. This is one of the reasons I am thrilled to be organizing for this president. When he could have very easily taken a high paying job fresh out of law school, he chose to roll up his sleeves and work hard to do everything within his power to make his community better.
And that is what I am doing this summer. We are not seeking to make our lives better, because as the President said, “it’s bigger than us.” Our work is to try and improve the lives of countless others, by continuing to move America forward. President Obama ended his conversation by telling us that one of the most difficult obstacles in organizing is getting people fully engaged and involved because “everyone out there is busy living their lives.” But he reminded us not to be discouraged, because we are not going to be successful all of the time. He said, "Pick yourself up after a hard day, brush yourself off, and do it again with enthusiasm." Not bad advice from the Chief Organizer himself.
President Obama began his telephone call by asking if we were “fired up?” On behalf of all of the summer organizers, not only are we fired up Mr. President, but we are “ready to go!”