Josie Ygnatowiz, Fung Fellow
“Is this too professional looking? Should I go with the tennis skirt?” I asked Diane on the night of the Gala… the attire requirement was “fitness flair” and I was wearing slacks. I went with the tennis skirt. In mid-November we had been lucky to receive the opportunity to join the Blue Goji team at the Partnership for a Healthier America’s 2016 Gala in Washington D.C. Blue Goji, being one of the main sponsors of the event, had a grand Blue Goji team table and the internship team, looking extremely dapper, started the night enjoying an elegant looking dinner creation of very small proportions.
Then, to our collective-youth-memory’s delight, Jordin Sparks started handing out the 2016 Catalyst for Change Awards. It was amazing to hear all that the award recipients are doing; such as the recipient of the PHA Impact Award, the After-School All-Stars program, which engages youth in sports, physical activity and nutritional education in schools across the nation. It was also amazing to hear Jordin Sparks sing, yup… you guessed it, “No Air” live.
Michelle Obama, who could not physically attend the Gala, sent an inspiring virtual message about the need to continue efforts to engage youth in healthier alternatives. After the awards and some dancing facilitated by the MC Doug E. Fresh, the fundraising began with the auctioneer selling a hat she took off a random man’s sweaty head for $600. Thanks to Blue Goji and the other attendees, the PHA received substantial donations that night to help fund their fight against the obesity epidemic in America.
And as if the Gala was not enough, the next morning was another reminder of how lucky I am to be on the Blue Goji team. Diane, Nick, Crystal, Mr. Coleman Fung, Adam Fung and I waited in line from 6:30am until 10:30am, in freezing DC temps, talking about everything and anything while we waited to get into the newly opened African American Museum; I really appreciate being on a team that values cultural awareness and racial justice.
The rest of the weekend was great as well; I managed to find myself at the Robert Kennedy Human Rights Award ceremony where Senator Cory Booker gave an inspiring speech; I volunteered at a social change conference called RootsCamp that brought together innovators, activists, academics and change makers to discuss and work out how to sustain movements and work through the next 4 years of the next administration; I saw old friends, made new friends and went to a lecture about security in the Middle East at a think tank. On the trip, I learned so much about what others are doing for a healthier and more harmonious world and can only hope to keep working toward that goal myself.