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Adventure awaits...

Name: Gizel Gomez

Date(s): 05/26/24 - 06/02/24

Sunday: 05/26/24
Delay to DC

After saying my goodbyes and loading up my suitcases, I did not make it to DC on Saturday. My flight was extremely delayed and I had the chance to go back home for another day. Early Sunday morning, I returned to ELP airport, repeated my goodbyes, and boarded my first-ever flight. LAX was my first stop, a long 4 hours of waiting until I boarded again to arrive in DC. The nerves began to kick in as I stared through the window and acknowledged the opportunity I was given to become an intern. From New Mexico to Washington, DC was fascinating to hear, especially after being the second intern to be chosen from my state after many years. I was greeted at the airport by Patrick, got a taxi, and arrived at GWU to finally settle in. 

Right at the lobby I was greeted by a couple of the USDA interns who gladly offered to take me up to my room and help take my suitcases. I missed the eventful day the interns had, but I was finally in DC the place where it all goes down. Frozen pizza was my first meal here, offered by some of the interns looking out for me since I was the last one. Sunday wasn't much of an eventful day, I arrived, set up my room, and got ready for the next exhausting day.

Monday: 05/27/24
Let's take a tour

Wake up, wake up, it's time to take a tour of the US Capitol! Memorial Day was a very busy day as we headed to the National Mall to begin the exploration of our temporary two-month home. We began at the Lincoln Memorial where we encountered many people admiring the monument and rushing to take pictures. I was mesmerized by the amount of history each building hosts and the inscriptions embedded in the walls, "a new nation conceived in liberty and dedication". Our tour continued as we walked by the Washington Monument and approached the World War II Memorial where everyone had the chance to take a picture by their state pillar. 

We dined in the cafeteria located within the US Capitol before our tour began. Headphones were given to us as the tour was about to begin, a smart idea if you ask me. Our amazing tour guide was super engaging, she opened the floor to all questions and knew the answer to everything. I was able to see some beautiful artwork surrounding the rooms and statues representing every state. My favorite part had to be the Rotunda which was enlightened by natural light coming in and illuminating the artwork. After a lot of walking and a long day of observing, it was time to come back to GWU and rest. Yet, I didn't rest, I proceeded to go do a Target run to get some essentials. That was my first official long metro ride and I had no clue what was happening. Thankfully the interns guided me through the basics and we successfully reached our destination. The first official day in DC was a tiring success!

Tuesday & Wednesday: 05/28/2024 - 05/29/24
CHCI Official Now

On Tuesday I officially became a part of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Internship Program. A great opportunity to be a part of this amazing program in which I hope to make meaningful connections and expand my political knowledge. Our day began at the CHCI Headquarters where we met the people on the Zoom screens and received the flashy badges. The day carried on at the National Education Association building where we met the CEO of CHCI, and of course, we got food! We had a show-and-tell activity, and to be honest, I almost forgot my item, but it was very sentimental to listen to others share their stories. This activity allowed us to connect and learn more about one another and understand that we're all in this together representing our Latinx community. Yet, the day did not end with that, we headed to meet with some of the people we would be working with and they shared with us some of their work with migrant and seasonal farmworkers. I was amazed to hear about their foundations and their impact on my Hatch community. 

Wednesday came along and after a long first day of being official, we repeated the routine.

We were greeted with an amazing background history of the Molina Family Gallery where multiple exhibitions painted the path of Latinx culture. Indigenous culture, the struggle to cross the border, finding work opportunities, and our fight for justice, were some of the exhibitions found within the gallery. Orientation continued after that in which we heard from various speakers and their tips and tricks to succeed. Money was a huge topic, we all need it and spend it, yet we have to learn how to be smart when we have it. I was a little shy to network with some of the CHCI alumni that came at the end of the day, I couldn't find that little push to just go and join a conversation. I still approached a couple of them, but not enough, I'll get better at it as I embrace my DC self.

Thursday: 05/30/24
Flashy Alarms and Flashy Photos

My day began at 3 AM with the loud fire alarm and an announcement demanding to exit the building because there was a fire. I was enjoying my deep sleep until it was rudely interrupted by the loud and annoying alarm. Sure enough, we had to exit the building and everyone was complaining because our sleep was disturbed. I went right back to sleep when we came back inside because there was no way I would let that ruin my peaceful sleep. Only four hours later I had to wake up and put my good suit on for the flashy photos we were taking at the Hill. Pose, pose, pose, that's all I was focused on while I was there to ensure they came out looking pleasant. It was all very quick since we made our way to meet with some of the USDA members where they shared more about their projects and the programs they fund. That was also very fast since we had to make our way back to our 20-minute lunch before meeting with CHCI again. The day ended with some delicious Chinese food, some novela gossip, and a very generous check straight to the bank. 

Friday: 05/31/24
Splash Splash!

After very long days, Friday was the last day of orientation with CHCI! The entire week was packed with events and speakers all day, so Friday was very much anticipated. We began with defining what we call home, the activity was very meaningful and reflecting as we saw how everyone interpreted the images differently. We were able to relate to one another at a deeper level and understand how we identify as Latinx and the different generations in our families. Our day continued with some presentations and reflections about the week and we had some time to write a letter to our future selves. This activity was very meaningful as I got to reflect on the reason I'm in DC and what I intend to do for my community. "Remember why you're here and who you're here for", was one of the phrases I included. It served as a form of motivation to strive in DC and make the best of this amazing opportunity. 

Hurry and beat the bomb or get splashed! We finished our day with a team-building activity at Beat The Bomb where we arranged ourselves in groups of 6. We suited up in white and entered the "escape room", it was totally giving among us. In the first room, we had to complete tasks, but it wasn't that easy, our screens showed instructions for images on the others' screens. It took some time to adjust and at first we were all yelling out the instructions but that was getting us nowhere. Once we finally completed that we moved on to a room in which we had to memorize a pattern of shapes and replicate it, the same thing happened and we had to strategize once again. My favorite room was the laser room. It felt like we were spies trying not to get caught, one of the interns surprised us when he started attempting to get through as fast as possible. It was all about communication and teamwork because we only had a certain amount of lives and if one laser touched us we had to restart all over again, we did that more than five times. The game began when we entered the paint room, we had to play a video game and complete all the levels in less than 10 minutes, or else we would get absolutely covered in paint. We completely failed at level 5 and at that moment we realized we were about to get shot with paint. Drop the controls and get ready, boom, splashed with paint. 

Saturday: 06/01/24
Food, Cars, and Space

It's the weekend and our exploration of the city had to continue. On Saturday we went to the farmer's market with Virginia to say goodbye as she headed back to Florida. The market was full of a variety of items, clothing, jewelry, candles, paintings, and most importantly food. We walked around pretty fast until we found the food section where we spent most of our time. The smell just captivated us immediately and we followed it. There were a couple of vendors but we were dragged to the Hispanic food. It was a smell you could not ignore, we were instantly connected. Carne asada, huevo con chorizo, gorditas, sopes, pupusas, aguas frescas, everything screamed for us to line up. We indeed got in line to get food and of course, everything was amazing, cooked by one of our own. 

The last activity of the day was the National Air and Space Museum. We had to wait outside in the heat for about 20 minutes before entering, and it was not fun at all. As soon as we entered we began to take pictures, for the journal of course. It was filled with amazing displays from astronaut suits to different models of airplanes. We entered two of the airplanes to look at the inside but it was very disappointing since we waited in line longer than we looked inside. They were very tiny and only included the pilot section and the front seats. Not much to look at but we went on to the space section and of course took some pictures of the planets and spacecraft. Every day we learn something new, today we learned that there is undersea cable to make calls overseas. Finally, we ended by visiting the gift shop for some space ice cream that did not look very appetizing, however, the museum was amazing!

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