18–year–old Melissa Best has very high expectations for herself and so do her parents, but her friends wouldn’t describe her as a hard worker. She’s always dreamed of becoming a US diplomat — living abroad and helping people, but then she found out how much work it is to become one. Melissa doesn’t want to give up on her plan but she’s not sure she can really live up to her high–achiever persona.
HOST INTRODUCTION: The UN General Assembly begins meeting on the Millennium Development Goals today and Radio Rookie Melissa Best wishes she could be one of the diplomats at the Summit--or at least that's what she makes everyone think.
NARRATION: In my family I'm the golden child--and I let everyone think that.
LAMAR: I think you're one of the most successful people I know. Honestly--
NARRATION: My cousin Lamar.
LAMAR: When you do great in school and my mom finds out and she comes home, "Lamar, why can't you be more like Melissa, she's doing all these great things with her life, don't you want to be like her? She's a great role model."
NARRATION: [laugh] Are we talking about the same Melissa?
Mom: Maybe you might be the first president, woah! And I mean woman president. I'd be like yes! That's my daughter!
NARRATION: She always says that! But I tell her I don't want to be the president; I want to be a diplomat.
MELISSA: Do you know what a diplomat is and what they do?
MOM: Sort of, sort of, sort of.
NARRATION: As long as she's convinced I have a plan, she doesn't need to know more than that.
MELISSA: I really want your job can you tell me what it's like?
AMBASSADOR RICE: [laugh] Well if I tell you what it's like you may change your mind.
NARRATION: Susan Rice is the first African American woman to be the US Ambassador to the United Nations. I've been telling people since 9th grade that I want to wind up where she is.
MELISSA: I feel strongly like what the UN does and I would like to bring the US views into like the UN, see how we can do it, make the world a better place.
AMBASSADOR RICE: That's great. I love that.
NARRATION: This sounds like a Miss America speech, but I'm serious, I really do want world peace.
AMBASSADOR RICE: You clearly are somebody who does your homework and cares a lot about doing your best and succeeding.
MELISSA: some kids at school call me "Oreo" and I hate it. Do you know what that means? Do you know what "Oreo" is?
AMBASSADOR RICE: I do, but why do they call you that? Because you're hard working and ambitious?
MELISSA: I don't, they think I don't exactly fit into like the black stereotype.
AMBASSADOR RICE: I get really frustrated and impatient with that kind of mentality. It's a backward looking mentality and it's frankly racist. I believe that we are all who we say we are and who we want to be.
NARRATION: I really want to be the super high achiever that Susan Rice, my mom and my cousin think I am, it's just...I'm not. The reason kids call me white isn't because I'm "hardworking and ambitious".
MICHAEL: the reason I think you white is because of the people you hang out with, that's it.
NARRATION: I hang out with the really smart people and I talk like them.
TYHREIK: You over-ennunciate and you don't use a lot of slang, you speak like proper English.
NARRATION: My friend William says it's because I correct his grammar. He hates that.
WILLIAM: So it's just a joke to tease.
MELISSA: My own parents call me a white girl, so.
WILLIAM: Your own parents.
NARRATION: Okay, Dad, okay. Just explain it.
DAD: You're like more bougie like one, you know?
NARRATION: Bougie? Really dad, really?
DAD: You know, because you say like, like, like, like a 100 times. So only white girls say like, like you know like! [laugh]
NARRATION: Okay look: I may act a little bougie and talk a certain way and it may seem like my whole life is planned out--but that does not mean I'm going to win a Nobel Peace prize. What people don't notice is that I'm not doing everything I say I am.
MODEL UN MODERATOR: At this time I call this meeting to order.
NARRATION: Here I am at model UN. It's like mock trial, but it's mock United Nations.
DAVID: I'll yield the rest of my time to Gabon for that question.
NARRATION: The kids here are very...ambitious.
DAVID: I love the spirit of it--the idea of many nations getting together and trying to solve an issue. I love running the parliament just, you know, kicking it with different laws.
NARRATION: What teenager says they like to "kick it with laws?" Anyway, today we're pretending we're on the Security Council and since I'm China I'm supposed to be running the debate--but instead I'm spending most of the day coloring my notebook. Pretty soon the director comes over and tells me I need to speak more.
DIRECTOR: Maybe you can talk about what she just addressed the committee about.
NARRATION: Yeah right.
DIRECTOR: Have fun a little, it's exciting.
NARRATION: Here it is my moment of glory...
MODEL UN MODERATOR: Do we have any other motions on the floor? I see none.
NARRATION: And it came and went. What if I say something wrong and it comes out sounding stupid? Only my friends aren't fooled by my whole "high achiever act."
HAWA: Yeah you always late man, why you always late for?
NARRATION: They understand exactly who I am.
MELISSA: Not physically!
HAWA: You are my best buddy of procrastinating.
ALEXIS: Super lazy.
NARRATION: Susan Rice said, "We are all who we say we are and who we want to be." That would be great stitched on a pillow, but let's face it, I'm not who people think I am and I have no clue who I want to be. I found this quiz on the State Department's website to see if I'm really cut out to be a diplomat.
MELISSA: Oh god, I wish my dad would stop snoring!
NARRATION: Ignore him. The living room is my bedroom and my dad is taking a nap on the couch.
MELISSA: Ask yourself, would I enjoy traveling frequently to foreign lands? Ooh, yeah! Having high levels of responsibility? I won't lie, I'm lazy. [laugh]
NARRATION: I know I said I wanted Susan Rice's job, but I'm afraid I'm gonna get bored and just be like "I don’t want to do this right now."
MELISSA: Have you ever procrastinated?
AMBASSADOR RICE: Oh yeah! [laugh] I'd like to meet somebody who hasn't procrastinated on occasion. Have you?
MELISSA: Yeah, I'm a big procrastinator.
NARRATION: I didn't even finish the State Department test.
MELISSA: I don't like long tests! I really don't! Why did I do this to myself?
NARRATION: Maybe it's time I put my plan in a wood chopper, shred it and dance under the pieces. But before I do that, I need to come up with a plan B.
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