February 26th, 2012
08:44 AM ET

Letters to the President #1133: 'A visitor'

Reporter's Note: I write to the president. He does not write back. Sigh.

Dear Mr. President,

My younger daughter is back home, and we are delighted. She spent the last seven weeks or so on an educational exchange trip to South Africa, and my wife and I missed her more than you can even imagine.

That said, it seems to have been a wonderful experience. She lived with a lovely family there who tended to her well-being as if she were one of their own children. She attended an excellent school where she made ready and fast friends. She saw sights that most adults only dream of seeing, and she learned a great deal about the government, society, and history of that distant nation. And soon, we will have a young South African girl living with us for a while, learning about our country.

Her pending arrival has caused great discussion in our house over what we should take her to see. Think about it. America is a vast nation with a seemingly endless array of things worth taking a look at; natural wonders like the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, and the Smoky Mountains; man made marvels like New York City, Mount Rushmore, and the Golden Gate Bridge. We have iconic, cultural landmarks such as Disneyworld, Fenway Park, and the Capitol Building; historic sites like Gettysburg, Constitution Hall, and the French Quarter. And that does not even address countless places which a teenager girl might find fascinating; an American shopping mall, Times Square, or an amusement park.

You see the challenge we face. Obviously we aren’t going to haul her coast to coast; she will, after all, still be attending school with our daughter during the visit, but it is an interesting exercise to ask oneself what should be shown…good, bad, and otherwise…to give a young visitor an accurate picture of America.

I’d be delighted to hear your thoughts on the matter, so if you have a moment, give me a call. Or better yet, if you think you can spare some time to say hello to her while she’s here, let me know. That would be good, too!