Good News; Silently Psyched
editors at Teen People inspire me. The teens included in the April
2002 issue of Teen Peoples annual, 20
Teens Who Will Change The World editorial special inspire
me even more. If only for a day and a half out of my world, I was
fortunate to be in the same room and living vicinity with some of
the most inspirational, motivational, genuinely interesting, and
innovative human beings that Ive ever met in my life.
Back in about December or January, I received an email with the
subject line Teen PEOPLE Magazine. Enclosed within the
email was a written request to know more about me and what I do
at HarlemLive, my aspirations for the future, my accomplishments
in the past. Stephanie Booth, freelance writer for Teen People told
me shed been strongly considering me for an upcoming TP special
entitled 20 Teens Who Will Change The World. Id
actually heard of this special before, as Id been a subscriber
to Teen People in the past. It's ironic actually; I remember checking
out the magazine's piece before, admiring its concept yet
jokingly adding on that they were missing an element by not having
someone "like me" in the special. Well...I guess
I can't complain now, can I?
was immediately honored to have even been considered as one of the
twenty, and to be honest, was so psyched about the nomination itself,
I barely had time to think of the possibility that Id eventually
be chosen. To fathom a bunch of people within a room, discerning
me as one of twenty teens in the world whod grow up to inevitably
change it, blew me away. I didnt mention this to anyone, wanting
to keep everything discreet until I received a definite yes."
I suppose you could say I was just silently psyched. I wouldnt
know for a matter of weeks whether Id be chosen or not, and
therefore after my initial taken back moment, simply
progressed along with my daily life, placing the nomination into
the back pocket of my mind. I figured Id hear from them again
if I was meant to, and didnt think much of it afterwards.
Soon after, Stephanie emailed me with additional questions following
the first set, and finally, I was informed that I was indeed chosen
as one of the twenty teens. Its strange; despite the fact
that Id now received the definite yes, I still
kept the news pretty low-key. I told a few family members along
with a best friend or two, but for the most part, didnt say
anything. I've never been one to feel comfortable with blowing my
own horn. After hearing the news, I just inked the Teen People awards
ceremony into my schedule and looked forward to meeting the other
Days, past, weeks went by, and I barely even noticed. The awards
ceremony came around so quickly! Its already March! As my
car dropped me off in front of a very trendy, very discreet downtown
hotel on Monday afternoon, I remember pulling off my shades and
looking around, thinking Wow. I think moreso than the
flashy awards ceremonies, or the moments with photographers or press,
its those moments of just reflecting on random predicaments
that increase your confidence and ambition. These sorts of predicaments
make you just sit back and wonder, I got this far just by
doing this? If thats the case, what would happen if I did...this...or
this? Its just motivating.
All of the teens in town for the awards ceremony gathered to
meet and interact with each other on Monday night.. Full of questions,
the air was abuzz with inquisitive and anxious emotion as no one
was quite sure what to expect from the entire thing. It was the
first time for all of us to be in this sort of event; everyone was
so wide-eyed. I remember walking in and introducing myself to the
varied teens, one such teen was a coincidental déjà
know you, she said. Before me stood an Asian girl with a bright
smile and stare that insinuated she actually did know me
from somewhere. Ill admit her face did look slightly familiar
in the magazine, but I couldnt place where I knew her. Itd
been a few years (seemingly more) since I last saw her, and Im
sorry to admit, but I didnt watch the Winter Olympics, so
I had no idea of what shed really done since then.
It was the voice of Julie Chu, United States Olympic silver medalist
for womens ice hockey, as well as the first Asian female to
ever win a medal in the sport. As I replied with an unsure, Hmm..I
dont think so..., she insisted, No no no...I
We stared at each other for a moment. Me, with my occasional flashes
of junior Alzheimers, stared blankly with an Italian garlic
knot in my hand. Blink. Blink. Umm... I murmured. Still...nothing.
She stared and thought about it for another moment as well. Finally
she proclaimed, I know!!!
Didnt you apply to CHOATE? she asks. I suddenly
remembered where I knew her from. Id applied to the very
prestigious [and very expensive, by the way] Choate Rosemary Hall
boarding school in freshman year of high school, and shed
been my very cool all-day tour guide. Little did I know,
wed simultaneously meet up in an event like this, or that
Id meet her again years later, an Olympic medalist. I mean
I do remember her mentioning hockey practice and its heavy
schedule in emails, but little did I know...
Its a small world after all...
After dinner, I suggested we all do something with our time as no
one really had anything planned. Everyone agreed that idle admiration
at the hotel wasnt a desired option, so we all headed down
to Rockefeller Center to go ice skating. Monday night, we left the
parents and relatives back at the hotel and headed out as a bunch
of vivacious young people on the town.
As the only New Yorker in the group, (the other New Yorker stayed
back at the hotel) everyone turned to me for possible to-dos in
New York City. I told them about Lazer Park, the theatre district,
a few clubs, and other possible spots that were well beyond doable
in the city. By the time we headed out of Rockefellar however, it
was pretty late, and a bunch of things, (on a Monday night) like
Lazer Park, were already closed. We decided to go back to our hotels
before wed decide where to carry on from there.
When we arrived at the hotel, there were giant gift bags in our
rooms bursting with free items thanks to everyone from Jansport,
Loreal, Arista Records, to Todd Oldham.
After going googly-eyed over our free packages and just relaxing
in one of the teens hotel rooms, we finally decided to venture
out into the [Greenwich Village] inevitably settling into a cozy
little coffee house at about one something in the morning.
There, we talked about everything from the judging at the Winter
Olympics to contemporary race relations to our least favored member
on MTVs Real World.
We all indulged
in late night convo until we were tired enough to go back
to our hotel beds. Monday night/ Tuesday morning was a blast, and
somewhat of a bonding experience for all of the teens involved in
the report. I stumbled my way into bed at around two or so on Tuesday
morning, set my alarm to wake me up on time, and floated away to
a comfort level of deep R.E.M.
The structure of the offices at Teen People are pretty cool; its
young, laid back yet progressive, energetic, and just all around
positive. We were taken on a tour of the entire place on Tuesday
morning following a brief breakfast, and I couldnt help but
to take mental interior designing notes along the way for the upcoming
HarlemLive space on 125th & 8th avenue. The tour followed a
brief breakfast to meet some of the Teen People editorial board
and staff and prefaced the awards ceremony.
The awards ceremony was WONDERFUL. Teen People's publisher/moderator
for the event announced her elation with having someone involved
in media publishing on the list. "All I can say is I'm glad
they FINALLY put a PUBLISHER on the list!" she exclaimed, followed
by a warm chuckle from the crowd. "I've been waiting for four
years now! Four years! It's about time!"
With music performances by Solange (Beyonce Knowles' younger sister),
Element (a group composed of the prior members of the hit show "Making
The Band"), M2M ( a new female pop duo), along with Josh Groban,
an Italian classical singer who came close to bringing tears to
the crowd, I'd say the event was an astounding success. Each teen
was awarded with a $1, 000 scholarship from Loreal and provided
with the opportunity to approach the podium and speak on what the
scholarship, accolade, and experience meant to them. In my brief
speech, I focused on how talented the other teens were, and how
I was just lucky to be included within the bunch.
Every single teen that I've met on this list has an incredible amount
of ambition. They're all very focused when they want to get things
done, and they're all very determined to change things. Now that
the event is all over and cameras have stopped flickering, I'm back
to my normal life. It was a great experience -- both humbling and
motivating -- and I've remained in contact with the other teens.
There are talks of a five year reunion; next year they'll be reuniting
the first class of "20 Teens" to see what they've accomplished
or what changes they've made. They'll do the same with my class.
So now, I suppose the question is posed: Where will Danya
Steele be in five years? Well. Watch me.
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