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Sunday, November 9, 2008

8-year-old writes to Obama, gets response

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By Doreen Yu

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OBAMA’S PEN PAL: Eight-year-old Karina Encarnacion, shown here with parents John and Cindy, sent a letter to Barack Obama with suggestions on what laws to pass and what dog to get for his daughters.

Eight-year-old Fil-Am Karina Encarnacion recommended a dog that president-elect Barack Obama should get for his daughters, and in return got “three bits of advice that will make your life more fulfilling.”

Karina sent Obama a two-page handwritten letter in September, and suggested a Coton de Tulear, a small Bichon-type dog named after the city in Madagascar, for its soft cottony coat, noting that “they do not shed, they are very lovable, small and very soft.” She said she has one, named Murphy, who “is very smart and sweet.”

Obama has promised his two daughters, Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, that they can have a dog when they move in to the White House.

In a surprise reply received last Oct. 30, Obama told Karina, “Look out for other people, even when it does not directly benefit you; strive to make a difference everywhere you go; and get back up every time you are knocked down.”

Karina, a fourth grader in Missouri, told the then candidate that “I think you will make a very good president… I think that you will make wise decisions for the country.”

She also offered some suggestions for the future president: “Would it be possible for you to make a law that requires everyone to recycle… And would it be possible to ban unnecessary wars?”

Obama’s letter, dated Oct. 20, thanked her “for your kind words, your dog suggestion and for your support. I am impressed with your interest in politics, especially at your young age. I appreciate your idea to make a law requiring people to recycle and to ban unnecessary wars.”

Karina told the candidate that her mother, who is not a US citizen, has nevertheless volunteered for his campaign, going door-to-door to “encourage people to vote for you. She said that since she can’t vote, she wanted at least one person to vote in her place.”

Cindy Herbosa-Encarnacion, who holds a PhD in Biology, is the director of the St. Louis Science Center. Karina told Obama that “my mother also said that if you become president, she will become a citizen for sure.”

Karina’s father John is a professor at St. Louis University in Missouri.

“Creating change and making the world better is not always easy, and you will probably find in your life that it is more comfortable to ignore injustices that don’t affect you directly. Don’t take that comfortable road. Challenge yourself to make a difference,” Obama wrote.

“If you don’t already know what it means, I want you to look up the word ‘empathy’ in the dictionary. I believe we don’t have enough empathy in our world today, and it is up to your generation to change that.”

“I hope you will always be an active participant in the world around you, and that you will seize every opportunity to make the world better,” he added.

“Seeing young people like you who care about making things better inspires me and gives me great hope about the future of our country.”

Obama’s letter, which included an autographed picture that she requested, was sent to Karina’s home in Cedarbrook Lane, Kirkwood, Missouri.