Usually, when I go to the Magic Kingdom at Disney World, it's to ride the rides, take a picture with my favorite character, and experience the theme park. But on January 19, the day President Barack Obama was to deliver a speech from Main St. U.S.A. at the Magic Kingdom, I had different plans.
I arrived at Disney's Contemporary Resort and checked in. I was amazed to find out that I was to receive a VIP press badge that allowed me to be seated closer to President Obama as he delivered his speech. I felt like a VIP journalist because my name was already known to employees at media check in. In the media tent, there were accomplished journalists and major networks, such as NBC, ABC, CNN, the Associated Press (AP), and FOX. In the past, this may have made me feel intimidated, but being there I felt confident. Unlike many of the journalist and media that were there, I was given the opportunity by Scholastic to interview President Obama face-to-face in the White House this past summer.
In comparing notes with some of the other journalists, it was interesting to hear that their deadlines were the same as mine. I saw my future in journalism through their eyes.
After the National Anthem, the level of excitement rose as Ruben Perez, a local small business owner in Central Florida, was announced as the person who would introduce President Obama.
As President Obama entered Main St. U.S.A. from a store front and took the podium, there was a roar of applause. Even though I had previously interviewed him, sitting in the VIP media section about 30 feet away from President Obama I felt a rush of excitement. It's an extremely rare opportunity to sit down and interview the President in the White House, but being able to hear him deliver a speech live was a memorable experience.
As President Obama spoke about strategies and plans to boost travel and tourism in the U.S., I was captivated. It was interesting and exciting to listen to an issue that I find important – the economy. When you live in Central Florida, you realize how big a part tourism plays in our state's economy. Every year, we see our state's economy flourish from both domestic and international tourists.
Living in Central Florida you're guaranteed to know someone who is employed at Disney. Disney, as does most tourist attractions, provides jobs and a source of income for many residents. Many of the small business owners and representatives that I spoke with at the event felt confident that these strategies would provide an increase in traffic throughout the state of Florida and stimulation to our economy's growth. You can read my story about the speech on the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps website!
It was truly inspirational to hear President Obama speak about issues that affect my community and the growth of the state's economy.
Photo: President Barack Obama delivers a speech as Disney World on January 19. (Photo courtesy Topanga Sena)