Yesterday I had the great honor and privilege to visit the grounds of the White House for a welcoming ceremony for his Excellency, Felipe, Calderon, and the President of Mexico.
When my best friend Katina invited me to venture to the White House with her for this event, I immediately envisioned an intimate breakfast of 100 Latinos enjoying huevos rancheros with a side of grits with the man who inspires me most, Mr. President Barak Obama and his amazing genius of a wife, Michelle.
As the date neared I began to prepare accordingly, which for me meant: rereading parts of Dreams From My Father, getting a haircut, listening to the Sound Track of Black Orpheus (President Obama’s mother’s favorite movie as well as mine) and having my image guru, Tonya Evans, find me the perfect White House dress.
Yesterday was the big day and of course it was a completely different experience than I imagined. The 100 guests were more like 500 and the only access we had was to the White House lawns.
Although we were literally corralled by ropes limiting our access, we did enjoy a beautiful ceremony and the savvy bilingual remarks from both men. As I listened, watched and enjoyed every drop of the experience, I realized what a privilege it is to be alive at this point in our history. From the energy felt from the crowd, they probably felt as I did and it was there that the greatest experience happened.
As Katina and I made our way to what we thought was the front of the ropes, privately praying for the off-chance that the President would be “working the ropes,” we met an amazing group of young men from the fraternity, Sigma Lambda Beta who had traveled from NYC for the event. We immediately adopted these young men and engaged them with insight, advice, support and encouragement as we waited for the event to start. This small but meaningful encounter quickly reminded me of the power of young people and the importance of encouraging them even if they are at first a group of strangers.
The second surprise encounter on the lawns was meeting Mr. Chris Simmons, an executive with Pricewaterhouse Coopers, a great soul with a passion for dance. We bonded with Chris, spoke of cultural connectivity and during our “keep it real” encounter, learned that Chris is a major salsa dancer. This to us was a classic moment, which we will never forget. Picture this. It's 7:30 in the morning; we are on the lawns of the White House networking as we wait; and we meet an amazing man who loves to Salsa. We shared Salsa stories, corporate stories and after the event continued the story telling over breakfast. What an awesome day.
While I didn't get to meet President Obama my willingness to open myself to this incredible experience led me to some amazing people doing amazing things. God is good.