On the 26th of May 2017, former US president Barack Obama made his first visit to Scotland where he attended a charity dinner hosted by The Hunter Foundation. He made one of his first major addresses since his term as president ended and the purpose of his visit was to raise money for children’s charities in Scotland and the Obama Foundation. I’m very proud to say that, after working hard to earn my place, I was chosen as one of only a handful of young people at the event, an incredible opportunity made possible by the William Grant Foundation.
I was so excited the day of the dinner. I am from from an impoverished part of Glasgow, and had never experienced the grandeur of an event like this. I found myself flapping over dress code and etiquette. However, Fiona Duncan – the chair of the care review – helped me feel less anxious and went out of her way to see me at the event. The representatives from the William Grant Foundation were also really supportive and looked after myself and a group of other young people all evening.
We should work together to make the country a more safe, secure and prosperous place for everyone. While racial and religious discrimination remain stubbornly ingrained within our societies, they are not readily accepted. Replace fear with hope. Stand up for a vision of inclusiveness.
Obama started off his speech by offering his condolences to the United Kingdom after the terror attack in Manchester in which twenty-two people died and over one hundred were injured. He made the observation that we live in a time of great disruption. People feel that the social systems in place aren’t working, so, to resolve issues, people go searching for other solutions and means of control. This sometimes manifests in the form of nationalism or xenophobia. Obama said in his address that there is a better way to reach across divides, emphasising the possibility for us to think in new ways, to be stronger than before. We should work together to make the country a more safe, secure and prosperous place for everyone. While racial and religious discrimination remain stubbornly ingrained within our societies, they are not readily accepted. Replace fear with hope. Stand up for a vision of inclusiveness.
After Obama’s address I was completely moved. I felt a real drive to research all of the presented issues and to follow through with his asks. I was so immersed in my own thoughts that I forgot we had entertainment to follow until Annie Lennox from 80s group The Eurhythmics came on stage as well as Scottish rock band Texas. I’m a major fan of Annie and had a ball listening to her perform. As for Texas, I had never heard of them but when I listened to them I knew I loved their music too. As well as music, Kevin bridges performed! He was hilarious and I was smiling the whole time.
The night eventually ended and as myself and my group were making our way out of the venue, my feet had gotten quite sore in the heels I was wearing. I tripped up and banged into a woman in a blue dress. I was embarrassed and shocked to see that I had fallen into JK Rowling! I didn’t know how to react and apologised and smiled at her. Thankfully she was gracious about it.
Everything about the event was excellent, but most of all, I left feeling empowered to take on big challenges and to do my part in helping charities like Who Cares? Scotland to make profound change for those in care. President Obama has given me hope that even the most difficult change is possible. Obama advocated for America to embrace diversity and acceptance. He stood up for what he believed in despite the odds being against him and this set the tone for his term as president. Like Obama I want to live in a society that is bold and diverse, and where I can be proud of who I am. I am immensely proud that I experienced this both for myself and on behalf of all care experienced young people in Scotland.