Last Week, fate decided to reward me & it started with an office rumor.
If you didn’t already know, I currently work in a campaign office. So Monday morning there was an office rumor that Bernie Sanders and Hilary Clinton were coming to Philadelphia. Bernie was apparently already looking for places to speak and Hilary was yet to announce whether or not she would be speaking anywhere public at all. The next day, I woke up to various “The Tab”, and “HerCampus” articles to learn that Bernie Sanders was coming to speak at the Liacouras Center at my school.
The minute I figured out this information, I made a decision in my head. I was going to hear Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders speak and I was going to meet him. The funny thing is, you probably think I’m kidding. But I am a planner and an ambitious one at that. Almost everything great I have experienced came to be because I had some radical idea in my head that other people thought was crazy. If there is one thing I’ve learned in my lifetime, it’s that there are always a bunch of people ready to roll their eyes at your goals. And those people never really know what they’re talking about.
Right away, people were quick to laugh at the idea that I was determined to meet Bernie Sanders. Never question the powers of theameliaburns.
Last Tuesday, I received an email from the Bernie Sanders Campaign that they were giving out wrist bands at a disclosed location that would allow supporters to “skip the line.” I thought this was my chance, but really it was only the beginning of a huge opportunity. So I scored a wrist band and consumed large quantities of Free Pizza from the Bernie Sanders Campaign.
Earlier in the day, I had the idea of trying to score a press pass so while at this Pre-Rally, I located about 7 volunteers for the campaign. I attempted small talk, intense interview tactics and even some desperate flirting to try and score some information on attaining press passes. Everyone was honestly just very confused by my persistence.
I ended up walking away with 3 random emails that a few volunteers thought might be able to help. That night, I opened my inbox to find one lonely message from a guy who said he could help me and a private application for a press pass to see Bernie Sanders speak. An hour later, I was approved for a pass to attend not the massive Bernie Rally happening at my school but a small, invite-only community discussion with candidate Sanders.
Excitement couldn’t possibly do as an adjective for what I was feeling. I realized that my social anxiety needed some company for this event. I contacted a couple of my friends and eventually led to convincing my “Big” (fraternity) brother to apply for the same pass, who also ended up scoring one. I mean, what else is a “little” good for?
Wednesday afternoon, we headed to the United Methodist Church in downtown, Philadelphia. I wish I could tell you that I totally played it cool when my name was on “the list.” But let’s be real, I definitely didn’t.
By the time Bernie arrived, the small church wasn’t even filled. The people who were in attendance were local community members, advocacy groups and press who were personally invited by the campaign to partake in a discussion with Senator Sanders. I was in shock when he walked onto the church platform. This man was exactly the person he was in front of the camera. He looked exactly the same, talked the same and had the same goofy expression throughout his conversation. By the time the event had formally began, Jack and I had crawled down the church aisle with our cameras, to the point where we were sitting directly in front of Bernie.
The entire conversation was surreal. I couldn’t believe that already in the beginning of my journalism career I was in front of a current presidential candidate. Documenting my experience and trying to take in the moment. It was hard to forget that I wasn’t just watching TV and in fact, living that moment right then.
He discussed a lot of issues effecting the Philadelphia community and was very receptive to the concerns of parents, leaders and officials. The conversation included police brutality,college tuition rising, the war on drugs, high unemployment rates and the future of children in poverty. I was very impressed by how educated he was on the connection between all of these things. He seemed to genuinely understand everyone’s personal struggles and I truly believe that he is someone who is inspired to make a difference.
At the end of the conversation, Bernie stepped off the stage to speak personally with the people who were there to support him. Even today, it’s hard to recall what exactly went on in that moment of chaos. All I remember is trying my best to remain firm while I shook hands with my first presidential candidate and shyly introduced my self.
I may not be the most poised journalist yet but I am slowly on my way to becoming one. This experience was unbelievable and I am more inspired than I have ever been before. If you’ve made it this far in my blog post than I hope you walk away with this:
If other people can do something than so can you. Don’t let the people who roll their eyes at big dreams turn you into them. It will only make life boring.
This is Amelia Burns, signing off,