A 16 year old Sichuan schoolgirl has been invited to attend the upcoming inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama on January 20. The girl, Li Zizi (李紫子) was actually born and raised in Japan but returned to her family home in Sichuan to attend the Chengdu Experimental Foreign Language School, close to some of the areas hit hardest by the great Sichuan earthquake in May.
When the quake struck, Li started volunteering and raising funds for victims by selling cookies and her own watercolour paintings, and eventually managed to put together US$500 to buy school supplies for children in the quake zone. In addition she now sponsors two children — a first-grader and a third-grader — pocket money and tickets to visit their parents who’ve been forced to find work far away to earn money to rebuild their homes.
Li is making this trip to attend the inauguration because this past summer she was a participant in the Global Young Leaders Conference in New York and Washington, whose alumni are invited to attend the presidential inauguration every four years. Tickets to the US presidential inauguration are supposed to be free, but this time all the optimism surrounding Obama has caused tickets to be touted for as much as US$40,000 and hotels in the area to be fully booked up at inflated rates.
In this interview with Chengdu Television, Li who exudes a quiet, calm confidence and a mature disposition spoke with the reporter in Sichuanese and gushed over the fact that she may get a VIP seat at the event, which means she will be much closer to the President-elect than most people attending the inauguration. When asked what she’d tell Obama if she was lucky enough to get one moment with the President-elect, she said in perfect English:
“I’m looking forward to the changes that you will bring to this world.”
Downplaying her own foreign upbringing, the girl joked with the reporter:
(“I grew up eating koushuiji” [a Sichuan delicacy of cold marinated chicken in chili oil])
In a separate interview with the Associated Press, Li described Barack Obama as the “perfect thing at the perfect moment for America” and said she is excited about seeing the White House.
AP: China girl at inauguration
Sichuan Online: 成都高一女生获邀出席奥巴马就职典礼