Encouragement: Just Your Average Young Woman


Let me begin this post a little differently than most-with a game. I’m going to give you, my readers, three questions regarding a certain person and it’s your job to figure out who I am talking about.

Question One Who has worked for UNICEF during the last couple of months as a representative of the United States?

Question Two: During that time, she served as a teacher, teaching lessons of tolerance and acceptance?

Question Three: Her students simply know her as “Jenna”.

Give up yet?

The unlikely response is Jenna Bush.

Most people simply view her as the President’s daughter; but upon deeper reflection, you would learn she is so much more. In her first individual interview in years, this mature young woman speaks out about her life (inside & outside the White House). Although, the primary goal of the interview was to shed light on the devastating impact of AIDS all around the world, her main message is, “Meeting all the kids I’ve worked with, I’ve became impassioned. I think a lot of times kids don’t realize how they have the power to change the world, “

After nine months of traveling through Latin America and the Caribbean, it’s obvious that Jenna has learned as well as grown a lot because of the journey. Jenna carries back to the States an empowering message of change. One that she hopes will open people’s eyes to the adversities and struggles around the world. “My job for UNICEF was to document the lives of kids living in exclusion, which means, you know, in extreme poverty, living with HIV/AIDS, living in abusive households. Kids that don’t have access to school or medical care,” she said.

With many years of teaching students in the inner city, Jenna seems in her element here. She listens intently as students’ talk of the realities of living with HIV/AIDS in Jamaica. In fear of their lives on a daily basis, some of their faces could not be shown.

“Knowing that you’re infected, you know, would probably cause you to be hurt, maybe even killed,” one child said. (Note: This part of the interview was taken on location in Jamaica while Jenna was teaching.)

This fact seems surprisingly ironic especially considering Jamaica is right “in America’s backyard”.

As well as teaching about tolerance, Jenna also talks about such controversial topics as protected sex and abstinence.

Despite these debilitating circumstances, some choose to see their life as “A Journey of Hope”. It is this remarkable view that Jenna hopes to portray in her new book, Ana’s Story: A Journey of Hope. The book follows the courageous life story of one girl living life with AIDS. For obvious reasons, the main person’s name in the book have been changed. In the beginning while writing this book on location, Jenna viewed Ana’s story as a life of sickness [this word was translated from the Spanish word], but Ana quickly corrected her.

In paraphrase, Ana said that her AIDS was not an illness; but rather a “situation of her life”.

Citation for TV Program: “20/20” News segment, Diane Sawyer reporting. ABC channel 7 WXYZ Detroit, News at 10 pm, September 28, 2007

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