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Chai’s Trip to the White House

From the desk of Chai Shenoy,

A few days back, I experienced something that I’ve always dreamed of– a White House event. I know, I know, many people who live in the Washington, DC area list the number of times they have turned DOWN an invite by the President. I can never imagine passing up on  a chance to sit on a sofa in a house that has more action than any other house in the world! And, believe me, I did sit on a sofa or two.

In honor of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, the White House invited women and men who have worked hard to ensure the rights of all genders. As I waited in line to get into the East Wing, the women and men who were waiting with me were the “Who’s Who” of the women’s movement. Even as a stick in the mud, third-wave feminist, I kept pinching myself that I was walking next to Ellie Smeal, learning about the financial costs of rallies nowadays.

After entering the East Wing, my friends and I were escorted to the room where President Obama and his wife spoke, followed by former Secretary of State Madeline Albright. Although all the speeches were moving, I choked up when First Lady Obama recognized all the youth in the room. She invited high school students from Maryland, Virginia and DC. I can’t imagine how it must have felt to have the FLOTUS (First Lady of the United States) recognize your school and ultimately you by making you stand up for an ovation in front of such a crowd

After the ceremony, I enjoyed the view of Washington Monument from the White House. It was breath taking. After eating some yummy finger foods, my friends and I rushed to take photos. We took pictures with presidential paintings and their wives (one day, I can’t wait to say “their husbands”). The night came to an end, but we did have one surprise. While guests were leaving the White House, the staff handed out proclamations by the President declaring March National Women’s History Month. What a great gift!

I will never forget that magical night….no matter how many times I am invited to the White House!

Chai Shenoy is the Policy & Technical Assistance attorney at Break the Cycle.

Chai Shenoy, Esq.

-Published on March 22, 2010