A reflection by Brahim A., a member of the CPS Student Advisory Council whose recent civic engagement has included attending the farewell address of President Barack Obama and leading a Student Leadership Conference in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Screen Shot 2017-01-26 at 11.58.27 AMBeing able to listen to the farewell address of President Barack Obama, let alone being in the very same room as him, was an experience that will never be forgotten, and having a chance to volunteer at this historic event that will possibly be written within history books was an honor.

The entire speech was a dialogue most Americans needed to hear, especially those who are concerned for the future of our beloved nation. He was able to raise the optimism of the liberals and the supporters that heard his speech. I feel like we need to keep our heads up high and remember that for the current presidency, we still have a voice and power to continue changing America for the better.

Most of President Obama’s speech was both memorable and upstanding, but what stood out to me was the topic of “comfort bubbles” and the need to become the action we want to see. In most of our daily lives, we tend to create a bubble, the one Obama described, that deflects and cancels any noise that challenges or debunks our opinions and political views. Personally, after hearing President Obama’s speech, I gave myself a goal to become open-minded with other viewpoints and understand the opinions of others. As President Obama stated, I won’t just argue with a keyboard but rather have an honest and intelligent conversation. I want to become the change I want to see in the world.

I began on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day by helping with a CPS Student Leadership Conference. This event exposed the unequal structure of the prison system to 150 students from 10 different elementary schools who were interested in the racial problems of our society. We made them understand the real power of their voices and the actions they can take.

The farewell address of President Barack Obama will continue to be locked into my memory. I will always be grateful that I had a chance to listen to his final words as the president – words that gave us hope, and the enthusiasm to believe his memorable campaign slogan “Yes We Can.”