Originally, I wrote the following article on Medium: https://medium.com/@ninafaynshtayn/dear-president-obama-822ced7c5c44#.99z6nbgmr however I decided to post it here as well:
Dear President Obama,
I was only six when I heard your name announced in my school. My first grade class read an article about yourself: your background, your family, your likes, your dislikes. I didn’t understand the concept of a “president” at the time. Perhaps I was confused about why one existed anyway. As a blossoming young political activist, I went up to my mother and announced “I want to vote for Obama”. She laughed and caressed my head, explaining that you had already been elected. I was ecstatic. The fact that you, the leader of the United States, had come from such a diverse family background really made me think about my own future. I was amazed that America had it’s very first African American president.
On the walls of my first grade classroom hung paintings of flowers, inspirational quotes, and images of various zoo animals. Of course at the time, all I paid attention to was the timeline of every U.S. President. I saw a similar pattern on the shiny beige-colored poster: white male, white male, white male, white male…I’m not one to judge the honorable George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, but there was no beauty, no splash of color, no smiling faces, nothing appealing to the first grader that was me.
I was raised my two amazing parents. My mother, from Uzbekistan, and my father, from Ukraine. I must admit that their heavy Russian accents sometimes made me feel ashamed to be who I was. When I witnessed my mother repeat the word “cocoa” to a staff member at the grocery store who gave her a confused look, and looked upon me to say it the correct way, I blanked out. After a minute, I pronounced it the “American” way, and the man looked relieved, pointing “right over there ma’am” to my mother. My father was old-fashioned, or as some would say “traditional”. Forced to be bundled up in layers upon layers of winter clothing, I knew I was different from the jacket-wearing, hat-lacking American children. Difference never bothered me, but more so defined who I was. I admired you for embracing your differences. It inspired me to get involved in politics, and support others in general.
When tensions just began stirring between you and President Putin, I had your back. I became involved with several Ukrainian-American organizations, all to support building a better democracy in Ukraine, and blocking Russian aggression. It was my father’s home country of course, but you were the one who made me think about foreign affairs. You are the reason I hope to pursue the field when I’m older, and even now as a young activist.
The tears you shed after Sandy Hook touched my heart with a soft embrace. I was a fifth grader in Connecticut, and the mix of confusion and misery was the most difficult challenge I had to overcome. After the tragedy, my stance on gun control was finalized, and hasn’t been tainted to this day. Thank you for trying with strong passion to pass gun control laws. My life hasn’t been the same since.
President Obama, if only you could stay for a third term. You were my inspiration, the reason I want to make a change. However, your time in office has passed by. Thank you for the jobs you created, and the strength you gave me.
With great respect,