Young Virgin Islanders headed to Washington for inauguration
Published: January 19, 2013
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ST. CROIX - A number of the community's movers and shakers, heads of government, federal employees and other individuals have been making their way to Washington, D.C., in the last few days for activities associated with the second inauguration of President Barack Obama.
A number of local youths are among the dozens of Virgin Islanders who will brave the cold weather and crowded streets of the nation's capitol to be a witness to the history-making event.
UVI student Letisia Williams will be among those in attendance thanks to her outstanding academic performance and her membership in the Golden Key Honor Society at UVI.
She said when she was notified a few weeks ago about the selection to attend the 57th Presidential Collegiate Inaugural Conference and the associated activities she was ecstatic and initially thought it was a joke, but she soon realized that it was in fact as real as opportunities get.
"I just could not believe it," she said. "I thought for just a few minutes about whether I would go and started my planning."
With the help of family, friends and support of local businesses, Williams began raising the funds it would take for her four-day trip. She said she is looking forward to hearing from some of the dynamic speakers, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and civil rights activist Jesse Jackson, who will be attending the conference, as well as to being able to network with her peers and discuss politics and social events.
Williams also will attend the Virgin Islands Association Inaugural Ball on Saturday and the USVI Friendship Inaugural Ball on Sunday.
"This certainly will be a great experience, and I am glad I will be able to take advantage of it," she said. "The only thing that would make this even a bigger experience is actually being able to meet President Obama."
Also in Washington are 10 students from local teen talk show "Graffiti Street," who also hope to meet Obama on their trip to the nation's capitol, which began on Thursday.
Wendy Wynter, show producer, said the students have been learning about some of the landmarks and monuments in the city.
"Graffiti Street" is in its 21st season. The program was established as an outlet for high school students on St. Thomas to express their views on topics of local and national interest to their age group. The show later expanded throughout the territory to include St. Croix.
Wynter said their trip ends on Tuesday, and during their visit, they will be conduct interviews and shoot video footage as working press and will bring the videos back to be a part of their upcoming shows.
As some of the cast had done four years ago, the students spent time fundraising in the community. They also tote their own video camera equipment to Washington and have been organizing to capture and document various aspects of the trip, the ceremonies and the city.
"We have worked closely with the office of our delegate, and they have been very helpful in making special contact with movers and shakers in Washington, D.C.," Wynter said.
Today the students are expected to volunteer in a day of service at the Washington Armory in various capacities as a way to pay tribute to Martin Luther King Jr., whose birthday is celebrated as a national holiday on Monday.
Wynter said that students exposed to the inauguration trips overcome anxiety and grow socially, while the experience also gives them a closer connection to the political world. They also begin paying closer attention to global and national affairs, she said.
"It would have been great if every student could have these types of opportunities," Wynter said. "There is so much to learn outside the classroom."
- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email email@example.com.