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Letter of the Week—January 23rd, 2012

“We know the battle ahead will be long, but always remember that no matter what obstacles stand in our way, nothing can withstand the power of millions of voices calling for change. We have been told we cannot do this by a chorus of cynics who will only grow louder and more dissonant in the weeks to come. We’ve been asked to pause for a reality check. We’ve been warned against offering the people of this nation false hope. But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope. For when we have faced down impossible odds; when we’ve been told that we’re not ready, or that we shouldn’t try, or that we can’t, generations of Americans have responded with a simple creed that sums up the sprit of a people. Yes, we can.”

This quote literally changed my life when I heard it. I was 14 years old, a freshman in high school, and not an American citizen. I was avoiding my homework and staying up later than I should so I could watch the results of the New Hampshire primary. Even until this night, I wasn’t sure who I would support in the primary. My mom was pro-Clinton, my dad, the closet Republican, was leaning towards Giuliani, and my siblings didn’t care. Even though Senator Obama lost, when I heard his speech, I knew he was the candidate for me.

The “Yes, we can” speech is my motivation for everything I do in politics. It is why I volunteered for the Obama campaign in 2008, despite not being a citizen and being an underclassman in high school. It is why I made calls, knocked on doors, and wore buttons. It is why I made the crazy decision to want to work in politics. Four years later, I am a freshman studying political science, involved in Young Democrats and Tar Heels for Obama, UNC’s “Greater Together” movement. I am applying for every summer internship I can think of that will help the Obama campaign, especially in North Carolina, a swing state. I recently became an American citizen and registered to vote, appropriately, at President Obama’s speech at N.C. State University.

I am honored to be working as a part of Obama 2012 in something that is so much bigger than myself, for an administration that has already brought about change and will continue to bring much-needed change to the United States. And any time I start to feel upset or cynical about the partisanship or gridlock in Washington, I open YouTube and watch the “Yes, we can” speech. I remind myself of what I’m here for, what we can become, and to keep on working.

Yes, we can.

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