by Hari Bhimaraju, 2016 CDB Scholar
I wanted to share with you all a very special experience I had recently!
I just came back from the White House and let me just say AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!! Starting Thursday morning and ending Friday night, those were some of the most fantastic 48 hours of my life!
On Thursday morning, my mom woke me up at 6 AM. Obviously, I was very upset. My school didn’t start till 8:20, so why did she wake me up so early? Nevertheless, she exclaimed that it was something I would want to see and put her laptop in my lap. Her email was open. The subject said: “INVITATION: White House Movie Screening.” This itself made my stomach start doing somersaults. As I kept reading, my eyes doubled in size and I started emitting high-pitch squeals. I WAS INVITED BY THE PRESIDENT AND FIRST LADY TO WATCH THE NEW STAR WARS MOVIE IN THE WHITE HOUSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I couldn’t believe it!
That school day was a blur of excitement and as soon as I shoved open my front door when I came home, my parents announced that I was leaving that night to go to D.C.! I started jumping around with joy and ran into my room to start packing.
When my aunt Triveni (from Virginia) drove me up to the White House entrance the next day around 3:40. I was still having trouble believing that this was really happening. I told the Secret Service Officer outside the gate that I was here for the movie screening and waited for him to ask me what I was talking about and tell me that there was no movie. Instead, he smiled and led me to the right place to check in. At that point, my brain was exploding. I no longer have any adjectives to describe my excitement when I found out that I was one of the 26 total invitees….. Perhaps spontaneous combustion? Molecular bombardment? Nope. Still not expressing the magnitude of excitement explosions I was going through. :):D
As we started walking into the White House, I saw its complete transformation for Christmas, with all its festive decorations. I was happy to meet the other guests. I talked to Sereia, an adorable seven year old, Milennia, a 16-year old who was super sweet and smiling, and Hazel, who was extremely kind and patient. I also met Nikhil, who was a Broadcom MASTER one year before me (in 2014) and went to the White House Science Fair in 2015. I talked to them, and many more, in a room in the White House for quite a while.
Afterwards, the White House staff led us to another room- the Diplomat Reception Room. This is the room that any foreign official would be greeted in, like Queen Elizabeth, for example. In the WHSF in April, we had lunch in this room. The officials then announced that “Two people are going to be here… make some room….”
After a few minutes of waiting and listening to the private helicopter landing outside, a very familiar voice- one that you’ve probably heard in some speech or the other- boomed through a door in the back of the room and everyone became instantly silent and gasped with excitement. Now we knew who the two people were! President Obama and Michelle Obama walked through the door, followed by three people dressed up as Darth Vader and two Stormtroopers from Star Wars. This was the first time that I met the First Lady! Having heard and read so much about how Michelle Obama does so much to help kids around the world, I was absolutely delighted to be in her presence! She spoke to us so nicely! And I couldn’t be more blessed to get an opportunity to meet with the President again! The President gave a really charismatic and hilarious speech – I wish I could have recorded it! We took group pictures. After spending some time with us, the President and First Lady left the room and went straight to their helicopter to fly to Air Force One and leave for Hawaii.
Then, you ask, where did we go next? To the White House’s PRIVATE THEATER!!!!!!! We got popcorn and cookies on the way and then went to the theater to watch Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. When we got settled in the theater, multiple surprises walked through the door. The directors, producer, and writer of Rogue One, as well as the ONE AND ONLY LUKE SKYWALKER (actor Mark Hamill). This time, people literally gasped aloud and nearly screamed. Being the humorous actor that he is, Mr. Hamill told us that he was most honored and excited to have met the most powerful man in the universe, Darth Vader. And then he said that there was that other guy photobombing the picture — what was his name again? — President Obama!:) It was an amazing honor to watch the movie with them!
After the movie, which was FANTASTIC, everyone went outside and got some Star Wars merchandise, including a T-shirt, notebook, and poster. Mr. Hamill was graciously willing to stay back and take pictures/selfies with us as well as autograph our posters. He was AMAZING!!!
At the end of this once-in-a-lifetime event, I walked outside with a White House staff member to my aunt’s car, shivering in the 19 degree D.C. weather but still grinning. That was one of the most unique, spectacular events I have encountered, and probably ever will. This has been my best holiday gift ever! I will forever thank our 44th president for the opportunities he has provided me and many other children all around the country!
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