Time out from the White House

Marlborough Midweek - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - JEN­NIFER EDER

Af­ter six years be­ing a fly on Barack Obama’s wall, Hope Hall has learnt a thing or two about stress­ful sit­u­a­tions.

As pres­i­den­tial videog­ra­pher for the former United States pres­i­dent, she has doc­u­mented his mo­ments beyond press con­fer­ences and of­fi­cial vis­its, from the casual to the deeply per­sonal.

But when Don­ald Trump be­came pres­i­dent, he de­cided he did not want a videog­ra­pher.

So as Hope takes some time to see the world ‘‘out­side the pres­i­den­tial bub­ble’’, she is shar­ing her ex­pe­ri­ences with the peo­ple she meets along the way - in­clud­ing teach­ers at a pri­mary school in Marl­bor­ough.

Graeme Din­gle Foun­da­tion Marl­bor­ough re­gional man­ager Kelvin Watt learnt she was in the coun­try for the Emer­gency Me­dia and Pub­lic Af­fairs con­fer­ence in Welling­ton, and man­aged to book her in to speak to teach­ers and Kiwi Can staff at Ren­wick School on Fri­day.

The Kiwi Can team works along­side teach­ers at sev­eral schools across the re­gion, de­liv­er­ing a life skills pro­gramme that teaches re­spect, in­tegrity, pos­i­tive re­la­tion­ships and re­silience.

‘‘We thought it would be in­ter­est­ing for them to hear her ob­ser­va­tions of one of the world’s great­est role mod­els,’’ Kelvin says.

Hope says work­ing for the leader of the free world re­quires many of the same skills as work­ing with chil­dren.

‘‘The re­spon­si­bil­ity of teach­ing is one of the great pil­lars of our so­ci­ety. You’re in a po­si­tion of power and with that comes great re­spon­si­bil­ity. And the sort of val­ues that good world lead­ers live by are the same as those that teach­ers do.’’

Hope has men­tored many White House staffers over the years, and de­vel­oped her own tips for per­form­ing well in a stress­ful en­vi­ron­ment.

‘‘When you’re work­ing for a po­lit­i­cal fig­ure, es­pe­cially the US pres­i­dent, there’s al­ways a cri­sis,’’ Hope says.

‘‘There was a lot of pres­sure, not just on me and my team, but other teams in the White House. But when you’re work­ing with some­one like Barack Obama, you’ve got to deal with that pres- sure ev­ery day, and not be any­thing less than a clear-minded, thor­ough, thought­ful per­son ev­ery day.’’

Hope has learnt a small amount about New Zealand poli- tics in her three-week visit, but says the gen­eral election cam­paigns seem tame com­pared to what she is used to back home: ‘‘This seems like an ex­tremely thought­ful, rea­son­able place.’’

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