Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Deaf Perspective Tidbits

I bring to you relevant blog postings or news stories showing the deaf perspective on politics.

  • The economic situation is hitting our deaf schools hard – Amy Cohen Efron outlines the grim situation in blog entry “Devasting Economy STRIKES Deaf Schools
  • Venerable deaf muckraker reporter/blogger Mishka Zena does some research and gives us the news on possible deaf school closings, budget cuts, and more. In her commentary, she suggests that “This would be a good time for you all to flex your civic muscle and contact all your fellow alumni to urge them to contact the governor how important state schools are for Deaf Children. Numbers speak the loudest : the more people they hear from, the more they will reconsider about the budget cuts.
  • Georgia schools Kathy Cox endured attack ads from Republicans blasting her for going on a game show while her schools were supposedly struggling. Then she won $1 million prize on “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” game show and declared that she would give it all to schools for the deaf and blind. Three schools were supposed to be the recipients - Georgia Academy for the Blind, the Georgia School for the Deaf, and Atlanta Area School for the Deaf. However, her husband’s home building business pulled the couple in deep financial trouble and they filed for bankruptcy. Now, the prize-money-turned-charity-award is in jeopardy and might not be awarded to the schools.
  • This is actually pretty interesting. As a copy editor at the Buff and Blue this year, I remember practically every single article that passes through my hands (and eyes). One of the cover stories last fall semester was about how Gallaudet University could welcome new inductees in the deaf world – veterans who have been late-deafened due to military combat operations and other causes related to fighting in the recent Afghanistan and Iraq wars. This press release describes how Veterans With Hearing Loss are now Welcomed at RIT/NTID.
  • Sean Forbes is a young deaf man who has always loved music and made it his passion to create music videos for both deaf and hearing people. He is now featured on the CNN website under “People Who Rock.” Congratulations! I especially loved his music video “Waiting on the World to Change” – the deaf interpretation of John Mayer’s song. John Mayer originally sang this song with some implicit political statements against the Bush administration. However, with the deaf interpretation it was almost like an anthem for the deaf people to go out and bring more changes to the world.
  • Listen up, small businesses! If you make your business more accessible to the deaf, you might notice increased traffic and more money flowing in for your business – thanks to tax credits and general positive publicity as demonstrated in this article about a franchise that decided to bring in accessible ordering system for the deaf people at drive-in. Potential customers? This quote says it all: "In one month, we got 6,400 responses"
  • And… I saved the best for the last: President Barack Obama’s Inauguration Speech is captioned at HULU and Bill Creswell has it up at his blog. Watch and relive the historical moment again and again – with captions!

Thank you

“Thank you!”

That’s a word I’ve been saying a lot in the past two days due to the public relations about my Local Grassroots Leadership award. I was already deeply honored by getting the award but having people come up to me from left and right to congratulate me as I was going through my day, finding emails from professors in nearly every department, and getting such kind comments and emails from the internet world – it hit me that I really credit my award to many others, not just myself.

I credit my personality and tough working ethic to my family – especially my parents, who have raised and seen me through the good and bad. Their unconditional love and support is really the reason why I have managed to get through busy schedules to contribute as much as I can. Also, this blog would not exist if not for my father’s casual, almost offhand suggestion that I take along a small white Flip video-camera to the Democratic National Convention to do vlogs. I never imagined how monumental that suggestion turned out to be. I am deeply grateful to my family for everything, from my DNA to their love to the fabulous home cooked meals whenever I visit the family.

I credit my post-secondary education and opportunities to Gallaudet University – especially the wonderful professors. Nowhere else will you find more outstanding faculty with diverse backgrounds who have different things to bring to the table that truly benefit the students. I’ve enjoyed deep conversations, moral mentoring, been inspired, been intensely simulated in classes, and received excellent opportunities in academic programs offered.

What is so wonderful about Gallaudet University? Often, people everywhere will say – “Because it’s the only liberal arts university for the deaf in the world

There are too many reasons why Gallaudet University is a great place to be. For one, it’s located in Washington DC – the political center of happenings. The direct access to communication on campus cannot be beaten. Everybody understands the culture of deaf people here. The fabric of social networking and the people you’ll meet are without boundaries. The rich history is also something of deep pride to all of the Gallaudet University community.

President Barack Obama has a deep reverence for one of the greats – Abraham Lincoln. Did you know that Abraham Lincoln signed the charter for Gallaudet University? The aura of political greatness hangs over Gallaudet University. However, now is the perfect time for us to internalize the admiration we have for our icons and go out and be great ourselves. We are the ones we have been waiting for. It’s time for us to take on the responsibility of the world and go out to work hard to help make the world a better place for the next generation.

I remember President Robert Davila once said something along the lines of (I cannot find the source of the quote, but it never left my mind): “Before Gallaudet University, deaf people could not have access to higher education. After Gallaudet University, deaf people have gone on to be professors, administrators, doctors, lawyers, scientists, and more.

I want to take this time to thank Gallaudet University for all the opportunities they have given me.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Leah Katz-Hernandez: The First 100 Days (And SNOW!!)


Leah Katz-Hernandez: Hello, everybody. Welcome to the beautiful Capitol – on a snowy day. You can see the snow blanketing it all over... How nice! I remember when I was a little girl, there was a picture in my grandfather’s office of the Capitol thickly covered in snow. I always looked at it and admired how beautiful it looked, wondering when I would be in the picture itself. And now here I am!

Anyway, I want to explain more about Obama’s “First 100 Days.” What does that mean? The concept of the “first 100 days” started with FDR (Franklin Delano Roosevelt). You know, he was president during the times of Great Depression and World War II. He really was successful because in his first 100 days of his term, he made a lot of progress and he got 15 major bills passed and a lot of other projects finished. He really ran through it. The people looked at his progress and were impressed with how he was so productive, so effective. It helped him to have greater general confidence in his performance. That perception was important because it enabled him to accomplish more for the rest of his term(s). And so that was also applied to other presidents after FDR. Basically, the “first 100 days” means something like a “grading period” in which a president is being scrutinized for his job performance, how well he does, how much he gets accomplished, etc. If he does well, then that means that he will be more likely to receive greater support and positive public opinion and it’ll be easier for him to get things done for the rest of his term. If a president struggles during that time – like Jimmy Carter, he encountered problems and setbacks during his first 100 days – then it’ll cause further difficulties and problems for the president and make it harder for him to get things done in the administration. So that’s why the “first 100 days” is important. President Obama has gotten some things done lately, a lot of major stuff he’s trying to do now. So I want you to keep on watching. Keep your opinion broad. Watch closely and be critical. What do you think??? Be serious and think deeply about it... Because the “first 100 days” is truly one of the most important days of his entire administration. Thank you!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

New Semester, New Purpose

Hello My Readers!

I have been busy with the beginning of a new semester at Gallaudet University. I hope it will be a great semester for me, balancing school and my other passions (such as this blog). I am excited to have a schedule of classes that will focus entirely on my major Government and minor English. I will be taking two classes about International government and since that will be an area to explore for me, I hope to incorporate some information in this blog also.

So, what will be new this semester about my blog's content? My goals this semester are to:

  • Continue to do Vlogs and interviews in ASL with a variety of people examining the spectrum of politics.
  • Fundraise the money to renovate my blog so to make it even more accessible for new readers. I hope to include a section that will make it easier for deaf people to know how to register to vote, where to go for that, and how they may be involved with local politics.
  • Increase greater awareness of Deaf Youth USA and Global Reach Out organizations. I believe that both these organizations, recently formed, truly hold great potential for the young deaf community and can do a lot in terms of bringing us together for the common purpose of doing good.
  • Broaden the topics that I discuss in my blog to international issues. I will encourage discussion and understanding of foreign policy. Why? Because, like I said in this "The Deaf Community and Globalism" entry, the deaf community in one country care deeply for the welfare of deaf people in other countries.

I am proud to have been featured in Gallaudet's official blog "Inside Gallaudet" for the second time in a short period. The latest article talks about my "Local Grassroots Leadership" Award. You can see it here: Student Recognized as Grassroots Leader.

It's going to be an interesting period of time with the first 100 days of President Obama's administration. We will get to see how he performs with the heavy inheritance. In closing, I would like to say: Size matters. It's the size of your spirit that matters. Everything else is just an illusion.

Finally, I'd like to thank Toronja Willams greatly for her wonderful contribution to this blog recording the deaf perspective of such a historical event: the Inauguration!

Adieu and stay healthy!

- Leah

Friday, January 23, 2009

Toronja Williams' UPIC's Inaugural Ball

The UPIC's Inaugural Gala in the

Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
As part of the culmination of the University Presidential Inauguration Conference (UPIC) event, I glamorously and memorably celebrated the inaugural night in the nation’s capital which was buzzed with excitement as the inauguration celebration came towards its end. Just a mile away from the Capitol, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum held a Black Tie Gala Inaugural Ball. In this beautiful and spacious ball, a number of former and current scholars were packed around the hall snapping pictures and exchanging laughters. At the back of the hall are a small live band, playing a variety of live music near the displayed fine and beautiful candle lighted dinner tables containing the delicious Hors d'œuvres and desserts. Everybody who was there had an awesome time, including me!

In wrapping up this blog segment, I would like to show my “token” of gratitude towards a few persons. First, I appreciate the UPIC for allowing me to experience this honorable and extraordinary historic moment which would become the crowning achievement in my education throughout my life. Second, I sincerely appreciate my family for giving me confidence and encouragement in participating in this event. Third, I thank my supportive staff and interpreters at UPIC for making this opportunity possible!! Last but not least, I want to thank everyone for reading my blog.

Farewell to UPIC!!!

UPIC's Event: The Presidential Inauguration at the National Mall

The Presidential Inauguration moment has finally arrived!!! For the first time in HISTORY, the National Mall has opened for Obama’s presidential inauguration. After a week of being involved in the UPIC events, I waited to witness this historical moment take place in Washington, DC. At the National Mall, I witnessed firsthand a democratic action take place as the President-elect take the oath of office, a peaceful transition towards becoming the next 44th President of the United States!!! Following the oath of office, the newly President presented his inaugural address, setting out his visions and goals for America. Everything turned out to be so beautiful, so harmonious and so powerful!!!

Congratulations to Barack Obama, the 44TH President of United States of America!!!

Toronja Williams at the Newseum/National Press Club

Before leaving for the Inaugual parade, I visited the National Press Club (NPC), which was a few blocks away from where the President-Elect would take the oath at the National Mall. In this beautiful place, I had an opportunity to take a preview of the inaugural moment from the hugh screen TVs which was held everywhere in the building. And, this signified that the NPC organization was in support of the media and news in politics.

Beautiful beautiful flags hung around the building which signified that the NPC organization valued the importance of globalization.
(Photo on the left: me standing inside the NPC building pointing to the sign)

(Photo on the left: me standing in the hallway of the NPC before leaving for the Inaugural address)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Toronja Williams' UPIC Keynote Adress: A Call to Action by Al Gore

A Global Warming Danger
in Our
Technological and Environmental Society

Most of the industrialists claim that the average global temperature this year is equal to the average global temperature of last year. Global warming is therefore, not a serious problem. However, many environmentalists rank global warming as the most serious current threat to the world's environment, citing evidence that over the past 30 years, the global temperature has risen an average of two degrees.
Al Gore, a former Vice President of the United States of America and a Nobel Peace Prize winner, gave a keynote address at the University Presidential Inauguration Conference (UPIC). Al Gore mentioned that global warming has been a matter of urgency and national security concern, thus, bringing the awareness of the danger with solutions for handling the climate change issue.
President Obama, although has not tapped Gore for his cabinet for any high level post in the administration, he continued to team up with Gore with the energy secretary and the Environmental Protection Agency administrators in occasion meetings to outline several energy goals as part of the $825 Billions massive “To Re-Power America” economic stimulus plan. “Global Warming is something that we must deal with now, not 10 or 20 years from now” urged Al Gore. He encouraged every American to conserve energy, thus, making America more cleaner and more efficient.


Toronja Williams' UPIC Panel Selection: Understanding Political Philosophy

During a panel discussion, a political philosopher, Eugene Jarecki presented his interesting views on issues such as race, laws, and democracy to UPIC scholars. To read his philosophical essay entitled "An Ode to Tomorrow", please click on the blue colored front link. Enjoy!

Toronja Williams' UPIC Panel Selection: Digital Democracy: The Web's Impact and Politics

Web Advertising: A New Breakthrough in Technology
The Digital Democracy: The Web's Impact and Politics workshop has fueled my inner passion and creativity in political advertising. Mike Krempasky, a founder of and a Political Director at American Target Advertisement taught UPIC scholars about volunteer internet activism and conservative grassroots activism through using technology. As a patron saint of the blogosphere nation, Mike Krempasky has strongly encouraged UPIC scholars to campaign through using the internet.
Although, many political candidates object to being made the target of advertising designed to cast them in an adverse light, but such advertising actually benefits its targets because most elections have been won by candidates who were the targets of that kind of advertising. Therefore, investigative blogosphere journalism, containing interviews, profiles and guest columns actually does bring benefits to the politicians. Similarly, as in Deaf culture, I know that most Deaf companies consider the use of technology as beneficial when they use video phones, blackberry phones, etc., for web advertisements.
Mr. Krempasky has also convinced us that technology advertisements were slightly better than the traditional advertisements for example, magazines, newspapers, new broadcasting segments, which most voters used to learn about their candidates, thusly, have increased the ballot votes. This workshop was entirely awesome, thus, giving me new ideas for using the vlog/blog, today.

Toronja Williams' UPIC Panel Selection: Headlines and Deadlines

Toronja Williams' UPIC Panel Selection: All's Fair in Love, War and Politics

From attending a very interesting and a very important workshop hosted by two hard-core politicians, the youthful audience felt a wave of excitement from listening to these politicians. Politician, James Carville, a democratic strategist and CNN political contributor and politician, Mary Matalin, a commentator and former assistant to President George W. Bush, both have arrived to the University Presidential Inauguration Conference (UPIC) to present their stories.

As in the historical politics of the Deaf People, we as Deaf individuals, are in conflict with ourselves when we identify ourselves as partly Deaf and partly Hard of Hearing, similarly, this couple is also at the opposite end of the political spectrum, James supported the Democratic Party whereas Mary supported the Republican Party (interesting twists, here!). Taking turns to speak at the podium, Mr. Carville and Ms. Matalin divulged about their two-party feuds in a co-authored book, All’s Fair; Love, war and Running for President, an olympic-winning book on the New York Bestseller List this year.

In the presentation, Mr. Carville and Ms. Matalin explained stories of trumping the individual differences in their relationships, for example, they were dating across different party ideological lines, such as their political views differ significantly from their own. The stunning details of their everyday pressures and of their everyday recounting moments of power plays; and of the clandestine maneuvers of Americans politicians and the near disasters and triumphs of presidential campaigns all have brought us on a “rollercoaster moment”, keeping us strappily tightened in our chairs throughout the show.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Exclusive Footage!!! People at the Windows

This is where I finally saw Obama get sworn in... See the metal grate that I was standing on? The day was so freezing cold but that grate had hot air blowing upwards. So I stood on it and it was nice, kept me warm :-)

The metal grate also served another cool purpose. As the 21 salutes went off, it was so loud, everybody could feel it in their chests. But the metal grate I was standing on made the vibrations even more VIVID and LOUD. I could literally feel the booming in my bone marrow and outwards. It was a great moment when the 21 salutes went off and I was standing on the metal grate that clattered along with the booms :-)

Exclusive Footage!! At the Gates on Inauguration Day

This is how close I was at getting in...

Was I disappointed I didn't get in? No. Just because I was right next to the Mall when Obama was inaugurated, it doesn't mean I wasn't part of the history. I was there. I was part of the masses of people. I met and made random friends. I saw Obama get sworn in live, after all (even if it was on TV).

For rest of my life, I will always see the Inauguration of Barack Obama on television replays. But for just ONE day, I was THERE. I'll be able to say: I was there... I saw the Capitol. I saw history and I was part of it. Nothing could satisfy me more than that.


This shows the reason why I wasn't able to get into the Mall for Inauguration viewing. It was just simply too packed with so many people trying to get into there. I waited in the line for hours, got all the way up to the gate but it closed before I could get in.

This was taken on 1st and D street.

Dictionary: In deaf slang, "True Biz" or "True business" means something like... "Seriously!! I mean it! No bullshit!"

Leah Katz-Hernandez: Obama's Inauguration


Leah Katz-Hernandez: I just saw Barack Obama’s Inauguration. I actually had a ticket with me to the Inauguration but it was so crowded and packed with people – it was really amazing. It was so bad that I happened upon my professor who had been waiting to get into the Mall area since 5:30 AM, yet she still couldn’t get in. As for me, I went to the place at 9 AM. I battled the crowds and made it all the way to the metal gates. I was right there, I was so close. But it closed. It was finished, I couldn’t enter. Undeterred, I looked around and saw people gathering near the large glass windows of a hotel. They had a television inside. I went up to the glass... It was just perfect, it was at the exact moment when Obama got up and held up his hand. I looked at him, transfixed. He spoke the oath. And the all of sudden, I could hear – feel – the boom, boom, and boom of the 21 salutes. It hit all of us. As we felt the vibrations of booms, the people just looked at each other... and we cheered, pure happiness was in the air, some people cried, and many did the victory fist-bump. I just stood there and looked around. I knew that it was truly official that Obama had become our President. I felt deeply inspired. I was watching the Inauguration through a window. The window reflected a man in my line of vision, and the television behind the window. I could see Obama in the TV past the window. And the reflection showed a man standing near me. The Capitol was behind him. I looked at it symbolically: The man was standing there with a little boy in front of him waving an American flag. The face of Obama on TV was melded through the reflection in the chest of that man standing near me, with the Capitol behind him. I could just so strongly see the symbolic significance of that image. It’s like Obama is really inside all of us. Everyone, all of us. What he represents – hope, the ability to prosper, and the values of American ideals. Those ideals truly are above all of us, what we all aspire to. I stood there, I thought to myself, today’s a special, historical day. But we should take a pause and reflect about what’s so deeply sacred to us: The American Dream. It’s now more real than ever. Now nothing is impossible. From now on, anything is possible. I just felt so deeply touched. I can’t really describe it in words. But at the same time – that image was perfect – Obama is inside all of us. We all are like Obama in our own ways. And that’s truly wonderful and dear... Thank you.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Leah Katz-Hernandez: The Inaugural Ball

Leah Katz-Hernandez: Hello! I want to say, welcome to the Latino Inaugural Celebration. This event is one of the many different Inauguration celebrations/balls/gala/parties happening around the city of Washington DC in celebration of Barack Obama’s presidency. I’m standing here in a beautiful building, Organization of American States. Really, this building is just gorgeous! It’s extremely beautiful, old, historical, and just grand! Very fancy building... Take a look around, look at the many flags up there!

(Camera pans around the hallway)

Leah Katz-Hernandez: Come on. Let’s enter the gala and see what it looks like around here... That’s what an Inaugural Ball looks like.

(Camera pans around the ballroom)

Leah Katz-Hernandez: Grassroots Leadership Award


(Video begins with panning of beautiful courtyard greenery)

Leah: Hello, hello!! See, I’m wearing a pretty dress... Why am I wearing a pretty dress? Because I’m at the Latino Inaugural Celebration at the Organization of American States. This is considered something like the United Nations of (United States of) America and all the other nations of the South America and all that. So we’re celebrating the Latino involvement with America’s historical election of Barack Obama. Why was I invited? Why did I get two tickets here? It’s because I was honored with an award... So, why did I get this award? It says “Local Grass Roots Leadership 2009” ... 2009, yeah. It’s basically because I worked hard to encourage the participation of all people – deaf, hearing, or whatever you call yourself – it doesn’t matter, the important thing is that you get involved with politics. And you VOTE. So I was encouraging all that and they decided to recognize me for that. I was so touched, inspired, and flattered! I want to say... why? Why did I get this award? Is it simply because of what I did? NO. It’s because of YOU. YOUR attention helped me reach greater prominence. It’s because I felt it was really important that all of you GET involved in the political process. Therefore, when I got recognized – they recognized all of you, too. Your connection, your desire to get involved all truly validated. So I really feel that this award is in honor of all of you. I want to truly thank all of you. I really look forward to more political participation with you!! It doesn’t matter if you’re deaf, hearing, or more labels... WE CAN!!!

The Crowds at Metro

It's REALLY starting! A glimpse of how crowded the Metro was at Smithsonian station during the Lincoln Memorial's concert and Inaugural welcoming event.

Joel Garcia: What I Learned


Joel Garcia describes what he learned at The Washington Center's Presidential Academic Seminar. Truly a RICH experience! It is his second seminar and in this experience we have been learning about the relationship between the media and the presidency. We have been privy to exclusive and detailed information leading to greater understanding of how politics works. It's a very enjoyable experience!

Meghan Venturini: The Metro


Meghan Venturini, a 4th-year Government major at Gallaudet University, describes what the Metro will be like on Inauguration Day. There will be estimated 4 million people coming to Washington DC and the roads in and out of DC will be closed. So that makes for using the metro extremely crowded. Imagine what it will be like!

Travel safe!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Inaugural Tidbits

I got to admit something. I usually assume that most of my readers know DeafRead and read my entries from there. Therefore, I automatically assume that I shouldn’t repeat the information from other deaf blogs that also mention political stuff, relevant issues, and talk about the Inauguration as well.

However, it has come to my attention that there is also a substantial amount of readership from outside the mass. I believe that no readers, whether or not if they come from or outside of, should be left behind when it comes to deaf political consciousness.

Therefore, I will start linking to other blog entries that are relevant. This will show much of the world that the deaf community truly does have an unique and differing perspectives on the political process of America and beyond! For this entry, I’d like to focus on Inaugural tidbits!

I am also pleased to announce that for the second time in one school year, The Deaf Perspective is featured in the official Gallaudet University blog “Inside Gallaudet.” You can read the article about the Gallaudet delegation to The Washington Center’s Presidential Academic Seminar for Inauguration 2009 and my blog there.

The Deaf Perspective’s Inaugural Tidbits:

  • (Edit) Obama’s name-sign for the signing community is discussed in this vlog.
  • Illinois School for the Deaf saw the beginning of their beloved formed Senator’s historical campaign for the President. They were there for it all through the campaign, and now for the Inauguration – 32 of the Illinois School for the Deaf’s students will be going to Washington DC, staying at the world’s only liberal arts university for the deaf, and watching Barack Obama get sworn in as the 44th President of America! They are blogging about it daily, as well.
  • Everywhere, we see the inspirational mantra being repeated again and again on t-shirts, posters, buttons, hats, and more. “Martin Luther King JR: The Dreamer. Barack Obama: The Dream.” Now, this blogger has Martin Luther King JR’s original speech in closed captions.
  • NAD’s Advocacy Blog is the best blog to go to regarding information for Inauguration day and ADA issues. Here, they write about where the ADA accessible places are for Inauguration Day.
  • Not in Washington DC? Watching the Inauguration online via live stream is possible with closed captions. Courtesy of Jared Evans’ blog.
  • This article shows the deaf perspective – exclusively RIT/NTID – on the Inauguration, talking about the alumni who are involved.

Ok, I’m out for the night. More later! :-)

All Exclusive!!! The Lincoln Memorial Celebration

The Inauguration Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial
At the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, the memorial where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. presented his I Have a Dream speech, the number of famous and most-sought stars and other prominent figures has kicked off the weekend’s inaugural festival, called the Obamapalooza. Our President-Elect Barack Obama welcomed thousands of beautiful Americans to the inauguration event. Before arriving to the memorial, in honor of celebrating his political successor, Abraham Lincoln, Obama mimicked the old 1861 tradition of this former President on a historical railroad journey from Philadelphia to Washington, DC.
(On TV: Millions of listeners recalled the President-Elect Barack Obama’s speech as one of the most memorial and powerful speeches in history.)

The HBO has exclusively televised We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration at a free and open to public celebration concert at the Lincoln Memorial featuring some of the high-profiled names in the entertainment industry: Bono, Garth Brooks, Shakira, Bruce Springsteen, Beyonce Knowles, and Stevie Wonder all showed their striking all-star performances, thereby impacting the audience. Other Hollywood actresses and actors, Denzel Washington, Rosario Dawson and Ashley Judd showed their supports with inspiring and touching comments. People cheered, shouted, and roared, showing overwhelming supports and reconcilements which signified with this year’s political slogans, CHANGE and YES, WE CAN.

I have never seen so many major artists and talent persons come together to celebrate this huge historical moment. But, it was so incredible and amazing to witness it, Live!!! Did President-Elect present his famous speech? Yes! President-Elect Barack Obama moved people with his powerful speech about his visions of sending children to college with a college fund, settling the economic crisis and resolving the foreign conflicts across national broader. Together as men and woman, black and white, gay and straight, disability and non- disability, we all can come together to change the world and to make a difference. Leaving the Lincoln Memorial brought a feeling of empowerment and patriotism as I glanced at the persons snapping pictures and buying Obama materials. The concert was truly one of the coolest things that has ever happened to me. I wish I could wave a magic wand so that you all could be here!

(On TV: Beyonce Knowles amazingly performed to thousands of American fans.).

(Photo on the left: Standing in the center of the memorial, I realized that I was very passionate about this historical moment.)

Toronja introduces you to Colin Powell

“Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence.”
-Colin Powel
Welcome back Fellow Friends!

Powerful leaders often are considered the ones to make huge impacts on the American political system, thusly, convincing the government to adopt their goals and initiatives, however, this notion is false. The voices and actions of Americans are as equally powerful as the politicians in making an impact on the political system in our U.S. government.
Colin Powell, the first African-American appointed to the 65TH United States Secretary of State under the former President George W. Bush Administration, a four-star General, and the Joint Chief Staff in Washington, DC has appeared before thousands of UPIC scholars, today. Colin emphasized that our volunteerism and activism skills in our U.S. government are perhaps very important.

“Let’s focus on the part about having a vision. When your vision is realized by others, others will change the society with your idea” urged Colin. He also emphasized that American people shall poise a courageous attitude, trustworthy attitude and persistent attitude to overcome the odds in dealing with unexpected tasks. As our economy and financial markets struggle through unprecedented turmoil, Colin encouraged American people to come forward and serve the beautiful nation. “My experience is that in time of need the American people recognize that they have to do more than they might have done.” stressed Colin.

With his sharp wits and dynamic personae, and amazing courage, he urged leaders to build trust, to be the last to rest, and to have a coherent vision.


The Impact of Latino Political Training

To begin this entry, I’d like to mention the National Association for the Deaf’s Youth Leadership Camp motto:

“Tell me, I’ll forget. Show me, I’ll remember. Involve me, I understand.”

Nothing could be truer for political participation. Yesterday was one of the best days of my whole life. I went to a Latino Political Training hosted by the National Council of La Raza. I had already mentioned about the types of political conferences, seminars, and the like in my Vlog “The New Media.” Going to the political training was a first for me, as I had attended seminars before but not training session. And the experience was so beneficial!

Through a series of presenters talking about fund raising, campaigning for public offices, organizational success, grassroots strategy, and even lobbying tips, so much resources was put into my mind that I could not contain it all and ended up taking over 15 pages of notes on my laptop!! I was bursting with so much ideas, bottled-up energy, ambition, and inspiration that I was ready to pop at the end of the day.

And I did – it just happened to be pure coincidence that I was slated to attend a Deaf Youth USA’s (DYUSA, for short) Inaugural Gala right after the political training ended at 5 pm. There, I talked incessantly about what I learned at the training and the amazing potential that DYUSA has for encouraging greater political participation, it being a youth organization for the deaf, full of bright and active young deaf people, and a grassroots organization at that, too. The reaction was positive and I was invited to the DYUSA board meeting the next day.

So today, I went to the DYUSA board meeting and implanted to them what I had learned from yesterday’s day at the National Council of La Raza. I gave them the resources. I transferred the power of knowledge. So, you see the direct impact that the political training of National Council of La Raza has had on the deaf community... not even 24 hours after-wards!!

I emphasized that it’s really vital to expand our mind-set and look for political allies with other communities. I view the Latino community as the perfect political ally for several reasons. One, our cultures are both separate, with separate languages, yet they are also unusually similar in many ways. The information I learned at the training was mostly for Latino community but it could all so easily apply to the deaf community as well. The Latino concerns are also similar to the deaf community - access to education, gaining a greater voice, and bilingualism. The Latino potential for a political ally is also something that I had already previously noted in this blog entry about Colorado Senator Ken Salazar (he is now working for Obama).

It’s always important for us in the deaf community to push and advocate for our issues and disability issues but when we expand our focus, we can really benefit from it. Here’s an excerpt from my training notes:

“It’s about actually working together. Where the power is. And how you use the power, too. All the minority groups think they’re divided. The answer is simple, work together. Roll up your sleeves and be creative.”

Saturday, January 17, 2009

UPIC's Welcome Dinner and Opening Night Ceremony

Good Evening!!!

I am at Washington, DC, ready to kick off the University Presidential Inauguration Conference (UPIC) event. To those of you home abroad whom are turning in to read my blog segment to find out what’s going on UPIC, let me welcome you, again! I’ve been here in the hotel since this early afternoon. So far, I’ve spent most of my time unpacking, I can tell you that the Marriott hotel is so beautiful and the staff is so helpful and so deaf-friendly, here.

On Saturday afternoon, I saw a few UPIC scholars milling around the lobby, but at around 5ish, I saw as many as 5,000 attendees arriving, the conference started rocking to its unique beat. Through meeting new UPIC scholars and reuniting old International Scholar Laureate Program (ISLP), I began to feel more comfortable and more confident. Just as I thought about coming to this conference, I reminded myself that the experiences here are what I make of it. So, I make the most of my experiences here.

University Presidential Inaugural Conference’s Opening Night Ceremony
Many politicians regard youth voters as unimportant and unengaged voters, neither impacting the politics nor making a difference in mainstream. However, this notion is false. American youth do impact the politics, bringing the issues that affect the Americans in our today’s society to the forefront in our political system.

Mr. Russert, a recent Boston History and Communication major, became a News correspondent reporting for many of NBC’s outlets, including NBC Nightly News” Today, MSNBC and MSNB.COM. As the son of the late passing, NBC News journalist Tim Russert, Luke Russert lectured at several national political conventions, covering the general elections and, the issues of youth voting which has increased throughout the election this year. Standing near the podium, he advocated for CHANGE, addressing the issue related to youth political activism and patriotism. His uproariously funny stories of confession, apology and reconciliation of new young correspondents in the news industry interested the UPIC participants. His powerful speech, Making an Impact: The Youth Vote and Beyond has influenced us to become the next 21st century political game -changers for our communities.

Toronja Williams welcomes you to UPIC!!!

The Road to the Presidential Inauguration 2009
****All Access ****
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”

Your Excellencies and Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen!!! BIG hello! My name is Toronja Williams and I graduated from the College of New Jersey last may 2008 with a major in International Studies with a concentration in Diplomacy. One year ago, I opened a letter that I received from my postmaster and scoured over the message “You have been personally selected to attend the University Presidential Inaugural Conference (UPIC) in Washington, DC, celebrating the inauguration of the President and Vice President of the United States". After six grueling months of prepping for my brain-sucking LSAT, I have been anticipating for taking part in this conference as a UPIC scholar. I am not mind reader but I predict that many of you beautiful persons are wondering what is UPIC? By no means, I will explain. UPIC is a one-week program which offers alumni of the International Scholar Laureate Program on Diplomacy and International Relations (ISLP) in China the opportunity to participate and to serve as a personal witness to one of the most historic and precedent-setting inaugural ceremonies in the history of our United State of America. Let me give a big shout out to ISLP scholars whom recognize me. Here is my BIG hello to YOU!!!

At the UPIC, I enroll in several workshops where distinguished leaders come to present their political views in across academia, business, politics and entertainment. The speakers’ topical debates and candid dialogues of issues will help me to understand of the presidential election and the nation’s democratic principles. Besides the workshops, we participate in the inaugural activities that take places the Capitol Hill such as the Presidential Inaugural address, inaugural parade and inaugural ball. This year’s conference is a huge one where we celebrate the Presidential Inauguration of our 44th First African-American President of the United States of America. Go Obama!!! At the conference, I will gain awareness about several of issues ranging from technology, global warming, and politics. I also will develop my personal growth through my interaction with the Washington’s prominent leaders through collaborating with them in several projects and networking tasks. Starting today through Wednesday, January 22nd, 2009, I will post my blog entries of my UPIC experiences here and hope that my stories shall find you feeling uplifted and inspired!!!


Friday, January 16, 2009

Barack Obama on the Inauguration

Click for captions.

"Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve." - Martin Luther King Jr.

This YouTube channel will feature closed captions, so be sure to check on it often!

I would like to talk about service. Why am I doing this blog and why am I investing all this energy and passion in bringing the deaf perspective of the political process to the world?

It all started at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, August 2008, because I wanted to update what I was doing to family and friends. Blogging seemed much more easier than sending emails. However, it was not long before I realized the importance and potential of sharing my experiences and education with the rest of the world. In a world that is becoming more and more connected than ever before, I saw a golden opportunity to roll up my sleeves and get involved to encourage more deaf people to join in the political process.

Did I ever get paid for my services? No. I consider my blog to be a public resource and everything on this blog is for the world to view, learn, and use. I continue to operate this blog because I believe that I am not the only one out there who wants to make a difference. I believe that there are more of you out there just like me.

People need to truly realize the crucial importance of volunteering, doing community services, getting involved, and taking up passions/ambitions - because the more you invest in the world, the more it will invest back in you. You will be rewarded for your goodwill and you will be able to learn so much during the process of it all. The benefits are endless.

Last but not least - Barack Obama's campaign has signaled to the world that we are entering an new era for everybody. Barriers are being broken down. It's no longer time to stand on the sidelines and complain about the state of things. More than ever, people are empowered to rise up and act for what they believe is most important to them. And time has ended for deaf people to lay back and be passive, to not get involved with the community, and to not dedicate themselves to passions and service. It's time for us to step up to the plate and swing the bat in this new era.

To quote Gandhi - "You must be the change you want to see in the world."

Thursday, January 15, 2009

EXCLUSIVE!! Mini-Interview at the China Embassy

I was able to ask the China Embassy's Minister Counselor (Congressional Affairs) Zhang Ping about how people with disabilities are doing in China. No transcript because voice interpretation is provided and sign language is visible.

My question: How are people with disabilities doing in China? Is the government giving any assistance to the disabled in order to help them succeed? And, are there any laws in place to give them accessibility?

You can watch the Vlog to see the answer!

I would like to thank Zhang Ping and the China Embassy for being willing to participate in a Vlog with me and The Washington Center for giving me access.

Furthermore, I would like to mention that as I walked out of the China Embassy I stopped and picked up some pamphlets and brochures. I was very impressed that one of the brochures was entirely about the "Protection of the rights and interests of the handicapped."

Inside it, there was not only one but TWO sections devoted to the deaf people: the Shanghai Orient International Sign Language School and the Shanghai No 4 School for the Deaf. There was detailed information about the philosophy of advocating education, language, and rights for deaf people and their fellow country-men/women with disabilities in China.

I took photos to show you what I picked up at the China Embassy. It is of no exaggeration to say that I was extremely impressed by the presentation of information about the nation of China's support for the healthy development of its deaf citizens. I do hope most sincerely that many other nations will follow China's example. Here are the visual evidence:

The brochure "Protection of the rights and interests of the handicapped."

Shanghai Orient International Sign Language School

Shanghai No 4 School for the Deaf

The Deaf Community and Globalism

Today we visited the Chinese Embassy and listened to the Ministry Counselor of Congressional Affairs Zhang Ping speak about the development and modernization of China over the years since Xiaoping Deng brought his transformative policies into action.

The timing couldn’t have been more perfect because just last night, I had viewed the Chinese superstar Jackie Chan sign in a commercial for 2009 Deaflympics in Taipei.
You can view the commercial below. Seeing Jackie Chan filled me with deep pride as a deaf person and I salute Jackie Chan for getting involved with such an important international event for the deaf. When sign language is given greater exposure, it increases higher awareness in the public about deaf people, our culture, our needs, and accessibility.

Today, the world is becoming increasingly connected through globalism. What is the deaf version of globalism?

Throughout thousands of years, humanity has always had deafness. It happens in every culture, every continent, and every country. And whenever deaf people travel, the experience of being deaf is an instant reason to bond and become friends. There is a special kind of warmth that members of the international deaf community extend to one another. Deaf communities in one country will always be concerned about the welfare of deaf people in other countries. That’s our kind of globalism. Being deaf transcends the boundaries of countries, cultures, and languages.

I know this blog is viewed by the international deaf community. I’ve gotten emails and comments from people in Australia, Italy, France, United Kingdom, Thailand, and more. The people I’m able to meet and connect with are so diverse. The range of readership I’m able to reach out to is huge and it’s simply because I am deaf. I view the world through a very unique set of lens. That’s why I consider the fact that I was born deaf truly a blessing. So many opportunities have come to me that I wouldn’t have if I was hearing. The only hard part is convincing the greater world that there is nothing wrong with being deaf.

Understanding the Libertarian Party's Disability Policy

On Monday, the Gallaudet University group went on a site visit to the National Headquarters of the Libertarian Party. The purpose of the visit was to gain a greater understanding of the Libertarian Party’s political ideology in a setting in which we were able to interact with actual members of the Libertarian Party and ask them questions. Overall, I would say that the afternoon meeting turned out to be very interesting. Libertarian ideas deserve to be explained but this entry is going to be exclusively about their perspective and policy on disability issues.

First, a brief summary of the Libertarian Party. Its platform is based on the desire for more complete liberty-based governance system and strict reading of the Constitution (“It is not a living document”). From the pamphlet I picked up at the office: “Liberty means you can associate with others voluntarily, you can speak and publish freely, you can practice the religion of your choice (or none at all), keep what you earn, run your own business, and love and live as you please (so long as you don’t violate the rights of others).” Libertarians basically want less government because they wish to live more “freely” and not be constrained by laws and bureaucracy of the government. Libertarians are pro guns, don’t care about telling people who to marry, sometimes pro-choice, anti-tax, anti-regulations, and anti-public schools. Libertarians believe that as much as possible should be privatized, including schools and hospitals, so people may have more choice.

Okay, interesting enough. Now, what about their stance on disabilities? Keep in mind, all the information in this entry came from a site visit to the National Headquarters of Libertarian Party and we met and extensively questioned a member of the Libertarian Party.

Libertarians believe that all government buildings should be accessible because “the government serves all people.”

However, they explicitly do not support universal disability access – not in the broad terms of such laws like Americans With Disabilities Act. This means that, should they be privatized, schools are not required to provide interpreters and/or wheelchair access. Restaurants don’t have to serve blind, deaf, or people in wheelchairs and can deny them if they want to. Companies don’t have to hire people with disabilities and it will be completely fine with the Libertarian Party.

Why? What’s wrong with complete access?

The Libertarian Party believes that the government should NOT “force” everybody to give access to the disabilities.
It’s simply up to them whether or not if they want to do that. It’s all about the freedom of choice. If a restaurant does not wish to have a wheelchair ramp, it will lose business compared with a restaurant that does have a wheelchair ramp. And it’s up to people to privately fund the interpreters for deaf people. Discriminating against people with disabilities would not be against the law in Libertarians’ eyes.

The entire Gallaudet University group and another group of hearing students in the program voiced strong disagreement with the Libertarian representative on this specific issue, arguing that if Libertarians are for strict reading of the Constitution – then “All men are created equal” should be taken literally and disability access is not only constitutional, it should be a major priority.

The debate went on for hours and it was a lively discussion full of differing perspectives. I’m glad that we were given the opportunity to meet with the Libertarian Party because I realized that – frankly – the Libertarian Party is naïve. They genuinely believe in the goodwill of humans and honestly do believe that people will give access to disabilities out of pure choice. They do not realize at all nor do they acknowledge the long history of oppression that people with disabilities have encountered and their struggle for basic civil rights. For the Gallaudet University group to go to the National Headquarters and discuss our point of view with members of the Libertarian Party, I believe it was an eye-opening experience for them and positive when you consider the greater exposure.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Day 3: CSPAN, the Congress, and Chamber of Commerce

Today was really interesting! I’m exhausted at the moment, though, because I was on my feet for the most of the afternoon and evening, and lugging a seriously HEAVY bag around. I had tried to make use of my laptop during the seminar but it wasn’t really a successful idea because I found that for today’s events, taking notes on paper was simply more efficient for me. Oh well. I’ll try to pack lighter next time.

It was very entertaining to actually be part of the CSPAN audience in real-life. It was kind of surreal to acknowledge mentally that I am watching something that is going to be shown on TV in front of millions of people. Simply put, I was just glad for the interpreters. It’s important for deaf people to be visible and for the hearing world to see sign language so they may acknowledge the existence of deaf people and our language.

In the afternoon, we had a tour of Congress. The building itself is beautiful and so representative of American democracy, values, and governance it was a honor to step inside. However... Maybe it’s because I’m a local girl, having lived in the shadow of the Capitol for four years as a student at Gallaudet University. I wasn't that satisfied with the volume of information I heard from the docent at the Congress. I wanted to hear more advanced information about the Congress on the caliber of The Washington Center’s lectures. Listening to basic information about the building didn't satisfy me but seeing the breathtaking beauty of the Congress itself was more than enough! The best part of the tour was passing the entrance to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office.

We then had a reception at the United States Chamber of Commerce. We had an excellent speech about media by Bob Schieffer, who is a well known journalist at CBS and the moderator of the third presidential election debate between Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain. I enjoyed the speech very much; the food was tasty; but standing in Chamber of Commerce... It was kind of inevitable that my mind drifted off to Bill Richardson at times.

Walking to the Metro station to get home, I literally got so excited in front of the hotel that the Obama family is staying until they are moving in the White House permanently. My camera ran out of battery so I looked for a picture off the internet of the hotel itself, and found these two. The labor union AFL-CIO is giving the Obama kids a very warm welcome and I found their sign very – in deaf slang – “touchy” (as in, heartwarming, touching, special, aww) :-)

The Hay Adams Hotel, where the Obamas are staying at until they move in the White House.

The AFL-CIO's welcoming message to the Obama kids.

State of Emergency Declared for Inauguration Day

BECAUSE... The deaf population is high in the DC/Metro area.

BECAUSE... I’m a local girl.

BECAUSE... the world’s only liberal arts university for the deaf is in DC.

BECAUSE... Gallaudet University has announced that due to transportation problems related to the Presidential Inauguration, it is letting students check in as early as Wednesday the 14th.

BECAUSE... All members of the DC community should be conscious whenever a state of emergency is declared, even if it's for funding reasons and massive crowds.

BECAUSE... of all these reasons, I found this press statement important enough to share with you. President Bush has declared a state of emergency for the Inauguration Day. Please READ the following carefully and pass it on to all local DC deaf residents.

The President today declared an emergency exists in the District of Columbia and ordered federal aid to supplement the District's response efforts in support of the 56th Presidential Inauguration. The declaration makes available funding and support for the purposes of ensuring the District of Columbia and the federal government are optimally prepared and postured to respond to the 56th Presidential Inauguration, beginning on January 17 through January 21.
The President's action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to provide appropriate assistance for certain emergency protective measures, authorized under Title V of the Stafford Act. FEMA will also be authorized and prepared to coordinate any necessary response efforts, should an emergency arise. Specifically, assistance is available to the District for emergency protective measures that are undertaken to save lives and protect public health and safety. Direct Federal assistance, at 100 percent federal funding will be provided during the period of January 17-21, 2009, and reimbursement of emergency protective measures (Category B), under the Public Assistance program, at 100 percent federal funding for work performed on January 20, 2009. FEMA will reimburse for eligible emergency protective measures performed on January 20, 2009, only if the District has expended on the Presidential Inauguration during the period of January 17-21, 2009, the $15 million appropriated to it for "Emergency Planning and Security Costs" by the Continuing Appropriations Resolution 2009, P.L. 110-329.
FEMA Administrator David Paulison named Donald L. Keldsen the federal coordinating officer for federal coordination operations in the District of Columbia.
The Presidential Inauguration has been designated as a National Security Special Event (NSSE) by the Department of Homeland Security. FEMA's role is to be prepared to respond to a natural disaster, acts of terrorism and other man-made disasters.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Serge Okogo: Obama's Economic Stimulus Package

Serge Okogo is a student at Gallaudet University from Gabon, Africa. He is one of the 8 Gallaudet University students attending the Presidential Academic Seminar for Inauguration 2009. Here, he asks both Bob Beckel and Cal Thomas about Obama's Economic Stimulus Package.

Leah Katz-Hernandez: Asking a Question About Bobby Kennedy

No transcript because voice interpretation is provided and sign language is visible.

I asked Bob Beckel, a veteran of over 100 political campaigns, about his beginnings when he first got his start as a volunteer for Bobby Kennedy's presidential campaign. I got a very good and heartfelt reply in return.

My question: "You started your career in politics as a volunteer for Bobby Kennedy. How did it affect you as a young person when he was killed? Did it make you disillusioned or did it strengthen your resolve, regarding America's ability to 'come together'?"

From the Speaker Biographies:

Bob Beckel: Volunteered for Bobby Kennedy in 1968. Credited with bringing "Where's the Beef?" into widespread awareness as a political slogan. Was the National Campaign Manager for walter Mondale in 1984. In 1988, became a television commentator for ABC News. Work in media include: Democratic political analyst for CBS This Morning, guest host for Larry King Live, co-host of CNN's Crossfire Sunday, United States political analyst for ITN of Britain, and is right now a senior on-air political commentator for FOX News.

Cal Thomas: One of the most well respected conservative voices in the media. Has an USA today feature: Common Ground. His forappears weekly on FOX show "Fox News Watch." Was honored with a Cable Ace Award for Best Interview Program. His twice-weekly column appears in over 500 newspapers worldwide.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Leah Katz-Hernandez: Reporting From the Lincoln Memorial


Leah Katz-Hernandez: Hello, I’m Leah Katz-Hernandez from Washington DC. We’re here at the Abraham Lincoln Memorial. I’m going to show you what we have seen in the first day of the Inauguration program. We have observed the preparations being undertaken in Washington DC to get ready for the Inauguration... for Obama! Here at the Lincoln Memorial, they are building a stage for music and singing. All the people in the Inaugural crowd will listen to music being played from here. Take a look.

The view from Abraham Lincoln's Memorial. You can't even see the steps at all.

Under the construction site at the Lincoln Memorial.

White tents being erected around the National Mall.

Shown above are the pictures of the current state in DC – full of building and busy preparing for Obama’s Inauguration in less than 10 days. Four million people will come to DC and that’s a lot of visitors to bear with. Here are some pre-Inaugural tidbits:

  • Over two thousand porta-potties have been installed around the DC.
  • Right now everything is “ugly” because things are still unfinished with the preparation. Look at the pictures to get more ideas. But for Inauguration, everything will be “pretty.”
  • Obama is familiarizing himself with DC. How many of you have gone to Ben’s Chili Bowl during your Gallaudet days? He stopped in there for lunch with DC’s mayor Fenty yesterday (Saturday). DCist has all the details.
  • Police force: Ten thousand extra security forces will be added to the ranks of DC police from the National Guard for the week of Inauguration and they will be working 12 hour shifts for the entire week.
  • It’s time to PARTY! More than 300 unofficial Inauguration events will be held in the city. That’s not even counting the official Inauguration events (such as state Inaugural Balls). And many of the bars will be open until 5 AM!
  • There have been so many "firsts" already... and will they ever stop coming?!?! For this Presidential Inauguration, it will be the first time a woman will lead inaugural national prayer service. Her name is Rev. Sharon Watkins.

CNN's Dana Bash Speaks

A video of Dana Bash's appearance before us this morning. No transcript because sound is provided and sign language interpreter is visible.

CNN’s Dana Bash speaks to the student audience at The Washington Center’s seminar. It was lovely to hear her speak but I especially liked this part from the beginning. In this video, Dana Bash spoke to us about her college internship in 1993 when she was responsible for feeding news scripts into the teleprompter and massively screwed up. The anchor yelled at her and promised that her first day would also be her last day on the job.

However, that same anchor later became her mentor and Bash went on to a very successful career in political news coverage.

She became the Senior Congressional Correspondent for CNN in December 2008. Bash was a member of the “Best Political Team on Television” and covered candidates for Election 2008, the mid-term elections of 2006, the 2004 Presidential Election. She also reported on major stories for CNN such as Hurricane Katrina, the CIA leak investigation, and the capture of Saddam Hussein. She was also at the Capitol on September 11, 2001. (Source: The Washington Center's Speaker Biographies)

The moral of her story in this video?

Get up after you skin your knees and keep on going :-)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Introducing Toronja Willams

I’m pleased to introduce Toronja Willams as the new guest blogger on this blog.

A brilliant deaf woman, she will blog about her experience with the Inauguration 2009 events and we all look forward to what she will share with us!

Graduating from College of New Jersey in May 2008, Toronja Willams received her degree in International Studies with a concentration in Diplomacy. She has traveled to China to study International politics and interned for the State Department one year ago. In the fall of 2007, Toronja was a participant in The Washington Center for one semester and interned for the State Department's Institute of International Education. She is interested in politics and international issues. Since March 2007, Toronja is a scholar with the University Presidential Inaugural Conference Program.

Toronja brings to us excellence in academic perspective of political events and I am proud to have her onboard!

- Leah

Friday, January 9, 2009

Some pictures from previous Presidential Academic Seminar at DNC

Tomorrow I will be beginning my second Presidential Academic Seminar under esteemed The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars. I thought, why not take a trip down memory lane with the first Presidential Academic Seminar at Democratic National Convention... Enjoy :-)

In front of the CNN Grill at Democratic National Convention 2008 in Denver.

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli and me

In front of political stars cardboard cut outs.

Me and Olivia Liang

Amy Speer and me

Jacob Leffler

Andrew Magill and me.

Hamad Alhamad and me.

The Regis University dorm room. It reminded me alot of Krug/Ballard West freshman dorm rooms!

Colorado sightseeing: Visiting the Red Rocks

CEO of DNC, Leah Daughtry speaking to us

The wonderful and beloved Gallaudet University Government department professors who made this happen! Dr. Frances Marquez and Mairin Veith.