“Dear Sir Obama: Presidential Advice”
By Op-Ed Contributor: Jory John
Jory John is a writer after my heart. To see this is heartwarming. These kids feel now that their thoughts and ideas are important! And that’s wonderful. If I [a child] saw my letter to Barak Obama, the President-Elect of the United States, printed in any newspaper (let alone a newspaper with the force of the New York Times) I would be pretty excited someone chose to pay attention to my thoughts like that. Attention paid to my thoughts, I recall, is what really mattered to me in elementary school.
Sections of the article continue below:
“Every day after school about 65 children come to our center to get help with their homework. The place is always vibrant, but on Nov. 5, 2008, the 20 tutors in the room essentially played zone defense to keep things in order. For the students, the election of Barack Obama had overturned their world.”
“The children had been interested in the election all year but few of them, truth be told, really thought Mr. Obama would be elected. When he won, their talk quickly and excitedly turned to what would happen next.
We decided to channel this energy into a writing assignment. We asked our students — not just those in San Francisco, but ones in Ann Arbor, Mich.; Boston; Chicago; Los Angeles; New York; and Seattle — to offer their thoughts, hopes and advice to Mr. Obama in handwritten letters (many of which came with drawings). Here is the result of their work; some letters have been edited for space.”
Let me share this typed letter with you:
“Dear President Obama,
I am small, quiet, smart. I love to swim and play basketball. My mom and dad are from the Dominican Republic. I am going to the Dominican Republic next year. I think you should try to change the world by building shelters for the people who live in the streets. It’s the beginning of January, and it’s cold. Good luck being the president.”
— Pamela Mejia, age 11, Boston
Oh my. Pamela Mejia I salute you.
These letters and pictures were provided by Jory John is program director at 826 Valencia, a nonprofit writing and tutoring center. He is the editor of the forthcoming “Thanks and Have Fun Running the Country: A Collection of Kids’ Letters to President Obama,” http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/16/opinion/16lettersintro.html?no_interstitial
© 2010 W. S. Hughes