Take part in a defining moment in U.S. history
at the People to People 2013 Presidential Inauguration program in Washington, D.C. Experience the excitement as the U.S. president stands before you, revealing a vision for the future of the nation and assuming the most powerful leadership role in the world.
This contest is now closed.
To the winner: Hunter H. from Billings Montana
Read Hunter's winning esay below!
For over 200 years, America has had leaders. Men and women who believe so strongly in all that America has to offer, and the values and the freedoms that Americans so strongly cherish and enjoy. Today, I’m not here standing before you, newly elected, to lead. I’m here to motivate. I’m here, not to make empty promises, or preach about all that can be “fixed” in America, but to evoke in the American people a new sense of purpose, to unlock potential.
Everyone has a dream. Everyone has an unsaid desire that yearned for more than anything else. When the first star of the night makes its appearance, or the candles of a birthday cake are about to be blown out, dreams everywhere are allowed to be wished upon and thought of more fiercely than ever before. Sometimes that is as far as those dreams make it, they are left as wishes to be hoped for at night underneath a lone star, or thought of when the flames are extinguished on those birthday cake candles. We often start with dreams so big and bright, but as we grow older and wiser, we realize the road will be rough, the possible will be difficult, and achievement is a long way off. Our big dreams may shrink as we grow to accept the reality of our lives. They collapse and fold, and we settle. We become okay with mediocrity and the average. We settle with the idea that dreams and passion are for little children, and part of growing up and maturing is letting go of everything that drive us to be what we were born to be: our dreams.
I’m standing here saying that is absolutely not the truth. Why settle? Why become okay with things being the way they are and assuming that nothing can ever change? The underlying issue that is plaguing our generation in America is not education, the environment, or the economy; none of that. It is apathy. It is not caring. It is not forming an opinion. It is having dreams but not chasing them. It is not living this short life on earth with purpose and passion. It is just letting life pass you without even looking up to see what we’re missing.
I believe I am here as a representation of all those who believe that young Americans have so much potential and passion than we have thus far shown. And I have faith that this way of thinking can be changed! I am here for the teenagers around America who don’t care about things that don’t directly affect them. I am here for those that don’t have opinions on issues and decisions they could very well be facing. I’m here for the little girl that had dreams the size of Montana, who upon reaching her senior year of high school gives up because they are too hard. I’m here for all the young ladies and gentlemen who live by the mantra: “it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t affect me.” But it does matter! Everything matters and is important to someone, somewhere, at some time! It is said that one action or one decision you make can affect 100 people or more. So how can you go through life not caring? How can you tell people nothing matters and your opinion isn’t important if everything you do affects hundreds of people around you! Each and every American, and indeed, each and every person in the world, has the potential to be great.
Apathy can be caused by the sheer daunting task life lays before you. It’s hard to care about someone else thousands of miles away when you have problems of your own. So let’s start with small steps. Let’s start with smiling at a stranger, helping out an elderly neighbor, a kind word to a friend, or sharing. As little kids, we have dreams, but we also learn how to care about other people, about sharing our toys and helping our cubby buddies. About not saying unkind words and even though it is hard, putting others before ourselves. As we grow older our dreams shrink, and we lose touch with these lessons. Maybe there’s a correlation, maybe there isn’t, but it’s time to retake those small steps. It’s time for this generation to go back a few years and relearn the importance of every decision. In kindergarten, kids quickly grab the concept that every action has a consequence. Bad actions, like hurting someone’s feelings or not listening to directions, have bad consequences. Good actions like helping someone out or being polite get rewarded. Maybe the real world isn’t so different from kindergarten after all.
So it’s time to wake up America! It’s time to get out of bed and find your passion. It’s time to carry kindergarten lessons in every aspect of your life. It’s time to live, to dream, to have purpose and meaning. Stop thinking your dream is too big to conquer! It isn’t. Stop thinking you can’t do it because it’s too hard! You can. Stop thinking you aren’t worthy enough to be all that you have the potential to be! You are! Find a meaning for getting out of bed every day. Find purpose behind getting dressed and going to work. Form opinions, have thoughts, discover you something you care about and act on it! If everyone in America cared about something different, however small, and acted on that passion, how much would the world change? How different would our lives be? How much better would our issues like education, our economy, or the environment be? What would be solved? How much happier would people be? Purpose and passion is everything, and it is now the time to show the rest of the world that the American dream is alive and well. That people, in all places; care. Thank you.
Witness American history standing on the National Mall during the 2013 Inaugural address in Washington, D.C.—then celebrate at an exclusive People to People Leadership Ambassadors Inaugural Ball. Acquire expert knowledge about U.S. history, government, politics, and the presidential process through dynamic presidential insiders, national monuments and memorials and private access to museums. Return home with personal insights into U.S. history and politics, and an in-depth understanding of presidential leadership.
- On Inauguration Day, enjoy a private breakfast and exclusive access to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History—in the heart of the National Mall
- Witness the Inaugural Address given by the U.S. president
- Attend an exclusive People to People Inaugural Ball
- Discover national monuments, moving memorials, and interactive museums in the heart of our nation's capital
- Develop leadership skills alongside some of the world's most motivated students
- Understand the American presidency with the help of insiders like Kenneth M. Duberstein, Ronald Reagan's White House chief of staff; Ken Walsh, U.S. News and World Report's chief White House correspondent; and Mary Eisenhower, President Eisenhower's granddaughter
- Meet your leadership group
- Opening ceremony and guest speaker: Ken Walsh, White House correspondent
- Smithsonian Institution National Portrait Gallery
- White House photo opportunity
- D.C. monuments and memorials
- Understanding the Presidency in a personal way—guest speaker: Mary Jean Eisenhower
- Guest speaker: Kenneth M. Duberstein, President Reagan's chief of staff
- Mount Vernon—President George Washington's beloved home
- Smithsonian National Museum of American History exhibit—The Campaign Trail and Communicating the Presidency
- Library of Congress
- Dinner along the Potomac River with character actors portraying President Lincoln and a cabinet member
- Private breakfast and access—Smithsonian National Museum of American History
- Witness Presidential Inauguration on the National Mall
- People to People Leadership Ambassadors Inaugural Ball
- Madame Tussauds famous wax museum highlighting 44 U.S. presidents
- International Spy Museum
- Newseum: the evolution of presidential campaign coverage
- World War II and Vietnam Veterans memorials
- Service project honoring U.S. soldiers
- Performance at a world-famous theatre
*We work diligently to ensure that the activities described here are available on your program. In rare cases, scheduling conflicts, delays, weather, or circumstances beyond our control may result in program changes. If substitution is required, we make every effort to feature comparable events to retain the content and quality of the program
Leadership Ambassadors are motivated, college-bound young people with a drive to succeed. Through People to People Leadership Ambassador Programs, they are equipped with the skills required to become future leaders—in their community, the nation, and the world. Our students come from all corners of the United States, and many countries around the globe. Many of our students are nominated by their teachers, who recognize their leadership potential, academic achievement and exemplary citizenship. Students who have not been nominated and would like to apply must submit a teacher recommendation.