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Let us begin...

Name: Gizel Gomez

Date(s): 06/03/24 - 06/09/24

Monday: 06/03/24
Bills to Laws

Let's begin the week with a simulation of a legislative hearing regarding a bill banning assault weapons. Monday was the first official day of CHCI programming, where Professor Bartels began with the first lecture. Over the weekend, we were required to research any information that could help our case and come up with questions to ask interest groups. My side was quite smart about it since we decided to meet on Sunday and arrange our game plan. Seeing the process of it all interested me because I had no clue about the time and effort it takes to pass a bill. The person with the highest term was the chair, and she was on our side, helping our given tasks and not allowing the other party to ask questions. It was funny to see how seriously the roles were taken and how she used her gavel to stop further questions. Our side didn't allow for much talking from the other party; the chair often said there wasn't enough time and moved on to the next interest group. We could tell that they were getting mad and tried to put up an argument that didn't work since we had the highest-ranking member. As a non-political science major, this simulation was very informative. I was able to learn about how a hearing works, the debates that go on between both parties and what happens when a bill is rejected. 

After that, we had a presentation about the NEXTGEN Latino Leadership Program, where rising juniors and seniors spend a week in DC and engage with members of Congress. As part of CHCI, we are potentially matched with students from our state and are required to take them on a tour. I was shocked to hear that there would be 2 students from New Mexico, which gave me a sense of home. Knowing that I will be able to relate to them and identify as a fellow New Mexican feels amazing. Later, we were given other presentations to calm our nerves before our first official day and engage us in positive thinking. We must have a growth mindset, not bring ourselves down, and look for areas to improve. A meaningful activity we did towards the end involved acknowledging what we wanted to get out of this internship. It targeted personal, cohort, and community goals. I learned that we're all very passionate about representing our underserved communities and that we will be the next generation of Latino leaders! It brought a sense of belonging and pride to be amongst other people who share the same goals and truly want to make a difference. 

Tuesday: 06/04/24
Exclusive Access and Cafeteria Sushi???

After long orientation days, I officially began working at the Office of Migrant Education. I was greeted by the program officer, Jessica Stein, who helped me activate my ID for exclusive access and walked me through the building. Unfortunately, most staff members work from home, so I won't get much time to interact with them in person. I received my work laptop, which requires me to insert my ID to log in. Personally, I had never seen laptops that did that, so I was amazed. Once I set that up, the program officer gave me an overview of their different apps and where I could find my assigned tasks and meetings. It was the first day, and I already had 3 or more meetings. It wasn't so bad since it was more about getting to know the staff virtually and listening to what they do. Everyone was extremely welcoming and glad to be hosting a HEP/CAMP intern. 

Cafeteria food isn't that bad as long as it's the right cafeteria. For lunch, we went down to the cafeteria, where they sell sushi and noodles—the first time I've seen that in a cafeteria. The sushi was delicious, and Jessica and I had some time to share our personal stories. We shared some similarities, and I had the chance to share more about my experience with agriculture and the physical demand it puts on those on the front lines of harvesting produce. One of the meetings I joined covered grants and no-cost extensions for the programs they manage. It was very intriguing to learn how these impactful programs are started and what it takes to maintain a successful program. Before leaving, I reviewed my meetings for tomorrow and replied to the emails stacking up since May. Keep in mind that today was my first time alone in the metro, so I almost got lost. I caught on pretty quickly and turned right back around. Google Maps is my dearest friend at this point. At night, some of us went to Captain Cookie for some delicious ice cream.

Wednesday: 06/05/24
Leave it up to me

On only the second day of work, I had to go to a presentation at a completely different location. I was stressing out for a bit, but then I used my dear friend Google, and it all worked out; I even arrived early. The event involved the CloseUp Foundation's New American and Immigrant students, who are in DC for a week. They represented different states, including California, Arizona, and New York. Dylan, with OME, was the one who presented and talked about the different programs, such as HEP and CAMP. The students were very intrigued and asked great questions. I felt like the conversation was as clear as it could be, because not only did he highlight the good parts but also mentioned some of the downfalls that come when there's not enough funding. I even got a quick moment of recognition as he read a quick bio about me to the group.

Once that ended, I headed back to the metro station to go to the office and start my day. It was different, I'll say that. This time I was by myself with no one to walk me around, but I managed to find my cubicle and log in to my computer. I had to take some time to walk around and locate the restroom and the kitchen area for future use. The day was pretty light. I began by reaching out to the other interns via email so that my supervisor could invite them to something we call Kaffeeklatsch. Later on, I met with my supervisor to discuss some instructions regarding some assignments and, more or less, what my day would look like on Thursday. She also walked me through scheduling meetings with other staff members just so I could get to know them some more, so now my schedule has back-to-back meetings. Today was great; as I headed back to GWU I knew where I was going and what train to take, so I didn't get lost!

Thursday: 06/06/24
Navigating the White House Initiative

Once I had completed 2 days with OME, it was now time to start with the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Hispanics (WHI). I began in my cubicle down on the 4th floor until Emmanuel with the WHI went to greet me. We had a nice conversation outlining their mission and what I would be doing during my time with them. One of the staff members brought donuts, so he took me upstairs to meet the rest of the staff and the interns. It was just a little getting to know each other since it was my first day working in that office. One of the interns and I had some time to talk to Melody Gonzales, the Executive Director of the WHI. We shared a bit about our background and what inspired us to apply for an internship in DC. I was very grateful, as she mentioned that she had some contacts in health care that she could connect me with. 

Another meeting followed after that; it was an onboarding meeting with all the interns to explain to us how their system works. There was a lot of note-taking to ensure the tasks were done correctly. I loved the staff; they were all very welcoming and willing to work with all of us. Once I got back from lunch, I had my first official assignment! It involved researching CHC members and noting any talk about FAFSA on their platforms. Each of us had about 5–6 members, and I had the opportunity to research Senator Ben Ray Lujan from New Mexico. The task was very informative, as I went through many of their websites and social media accounts to learn more about the issues they target. My day was going great until I returned to GWU and accidentally went up to the wrong floor and knocked on some random people's rooms; thankfully, they didn't see me.

Random pictures I took, featuring my cool setup

Friday: 06/07/24
Last First Week

My day was successful, as I started at 9 AM at the office. It took a while for the WHI to give me an assignment for the day, so I was catching up with some OME work. I had the chance to meet the group leader, Patricia. She informed me about the free transportation I can apply for, which will be beneficial. Later, Emmanuel, with the WHI, provided me with an assignment that included going over emails people sent requesting change. I had to go over the emails and identify the states they were coming from and any universities or organizations they were part of. At around noon, the staff and the interns went out for lunch to Matchbox. We took an Uber there, and it was a great bonding moment as we got to talk more about our experiences in DC and what we wanted to do during our time here. Once I got back, I continued with the assignment until it was time to leave. Later in the evening, we took a quick girls' trip to Target. It was National Donut Day, so we stopped at Krispy Kreme and got ourselves a free donut. My day concluded with a walk to McDonald's, where Juan Diego joined us, and we had a nice chisme session before calling it a day, and we also got our CHCI headshots on Friday.

Saturday: 06/08/24
Pride Parade

Saturday was the day to relax and have fun. I took advantage and woke up late to make up for the early mornings during the week. Once I woke up, the CHCI interns mentioned going to the pride parade, which we did. We all took the metro together, and when we arrived, we had to navigate through the crowd of people. I was surprised to see the amount of people who attended the parade, probably because I had never been to one. There were people tossing bracelets, flags, necklaces, stress balls, and other things. Once we left, we took a walk to get food, which seemed like everyone was doing after the parade was over. After I got back, I just took a nap because I was super drained from being outside. I woke up to messages from the group chat saying we were going to The Wharf to watch the fireworks. We got there, but unfortunately, we had already missed the show. We still stayed and just sat down to talk. The Wharf was nice; the boats, the water, the view—everything was just amazing!

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