Hearing Voices

June 1999

I moved to Chicago to be closer to my family and to begin service as a member of City Year Chicago. I had just graduated from Reed College. I was civic minded, passionate about public education, and hoping to help change a small part of the world and to inspire youth through my work as a community volunteer. 

During my orientation week, my diverse group of corps members and I rode the clamoring red line El train deep into the south side of Chicago. We made it to our stop, unloaded, and walked a few blocks to a local public library. The twenty of us, representing all colors, education levels, experiences, and socio-economic statuses, gathered in an open space of the library and waited.

“Who are we waiting for?” one corps member asked.

“Barack Obama,” a voice answered.

“Who?”

This young Illinois State Senator named Barack Obama spent 45 minutes speaking to our small group about the importance of community service. He spoke about how we, as a group of diverse young people,  can help shape the world by serving as inspiring role models and agents of change in our local communities. I remember walking out of that library believing I could make a difference in my community. I felt inspired. I liked this new voice that I had heard.

November 4, 2008

My family and I had the television on throughout the evening. We ate dinner, made crafts, and looked at books all against the backdrop of voices announcing election updates. While my 3-year-old daughter was walking around the living room with a stuffed pink puppy on a purple leash, she turned to me, pointed to the television and asked, “Did she say Hope, Mama?”

“No, ” I said. “She said Obama.”

“Hmm…it sounds like Hope-Mama!”

November 5, 2008

On the drive to my daughter’s preschool, the radio was tuned to NPR. They were playing bits and pieces of Obama’s victory speech. After a few seconds of listening, my half-Filipino daughter announced,”Mama. It’s Obama again! I like his voice.”

A new voice has spoken.  A new voice has been heard.

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2 responses to “Hearing Voices

  1. What you’ve written today brings another set of tears to my eyes. This, indeed, is Hope, Mama.

  2. I honestly just got the chills reading that. I never knew you got to meet him before? That’s amazing! I am so excited about the prospects for our country, and this just sums it up…so much hope for what the future holds!

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