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As I reflect on my first week in Orange County, CA, I pride myself with having the opportunity of being immersed in the OC culture in such a short time — from meeting several great representatives from nonprofit organizations to acknowledging the richness of diversity Orange County possesses. However, what resonated with me most during this first week was our visit to the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum.

Prior to our excursion to the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, I had little to no knowledge about President Nixon, besides the basic facts: 37th President of the United States and of course, the Watergate Scandal. Within the library/museum lies a plethora of information — information that I would have never known if I had not immersed myself into the culture of California (particularly Yorba Linda) and embraced President Nixon for the impact he made on America during his ENTIRE lifetime.

The most important aspect of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum is that it focuses on his life, not merely his presidency. Growing up in Yorba Linda, CA, President Nixon’s early life was challenging as finances became an issue and two of his siblings passed away at young ages; however, these outcomes did not deter Nixon from pursuing his dreams. Completing his education at Whittier College and Duke University School of Law, President Nixon continued on to become a Congressmen for the State of California and ultimately, the President of the United States. In spite of being the first and only U.S. President to resign from office, President Nixon returned home to California, where he suffered a severe stroke and subsequently died on April 22, 1994.

The initial ways in which I would have described President Nixon were “bad President” and “scandalous.” However, considering the way in which the people of California, particularly Yorba Linda, greatly admired President Nixon for all of his hard work both within his presidency and outside of it, I have come to acknowledge and understand the bigger picture. Yes, President Nixon made mistakes during his time in office; however, he succeeded in several tasks, including but not limited to, the betterment of foreign policy, domestic exchange, and space policies.

Overall, despite preconceived notions regarding President Nixon and his time in office, immersing myself into the culture of Yorba Linda, CA, has taught me more than just the Watergate Scandal; my experience thus far has taught me that things aren’t always as they seem. As President Bill Clinton once stated, “May the day of judging President Nixon on anything less than his entire life and career come to a close.”