First year Ateneo de Manila college student Santiago Arnaiz is the lone Filipino youth invited to the Presidential Inauguration Conference.
It’s an exclusive event for students in the US and different countries around the world. Arnaiz said he had a hard time believing that the invitation was real.
“I got an email about it and a first i didn’t really mind it coz i thought it was like spam message honestly, coz i mean who gets invited to a presidential inauguration right? Of the United States of America. And I’m a Filipino right? But i’m thinking this is some spam message and i just deleted it. And then i got another one, coz they’re persistent like that apparently.”
“So I was like is this legit? And then my parents come to me, my dad, he goes ‘Hey, I got an email from GYLC’ and i guess they copy furnish the parents, and maybe they just realized this guy is ignoring us, he told me to check it out. I really got into it said hey this is connected to GYLC and this is two years ago, I wasn’t really thinking of it anymore. I got into it and I looked into it and I said this is a really cool opportunity and that’s when I fell off my chair,” Arnaiz said.
Arnaiz was chosen as one of the top alumnus of the Global Young Leaders Conference (GYLC) which he attended in 2011. He was amongst the four students chosen deliver a speech during the commencement ceremony.
“I spoke about how the future really relied on my generation embracing this globalized world that’s been created right now, through connections across the world where a student from the Philippines can find that he has more in common with a girl in India than his own parents, and so in this globalised world we live in, its important to embrace that, so the future really lies in that direction, and we have to be aware. And because of that conference, yun nga I was invited to the presidential inauguration,” he said.
In attending the conference, Arnaiz will get the chance to rub elbows with political leaders and will also take part in the gala inaugural celebration as well as witness the inauguration of US President Barack Obama in Washington D.C.
“I can’t really express how excited I am, honestly. Like I said it’s an amazing opportunity. One of the really exciting things is we’re gonna be given talks by Rev. Jesse Jackson, Judd Bush, and other prominent figures in US politics. These people are so distinguished in their fields,” he added.
He believes that whoever sits in the White House if of great importance to Filipinos.
“We stand to gain a lot in advocating the faith that the American people have in their government and I feel that it’s very timely because our country is in the upswing right now. Now, more than ever, we need that faith in good governance and we need that drive that collective will as a people and we can see that in the Americans and so we stand to gain so much,” he said.
He will be accompanied in the US by his uncle Franci Arnaiz, a former PBA superstar in the 1980s.