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Week 1: The Journey Begins

05.26.2024 Finally Back in Washington D.C

A year ago, I had the opportunity to take a class in Washington, D.C., over the summer, and the city captured my heart. Freshman year I could not believe the opportunities I found and the people I met in less than 10 days. By the time I left, I told myself that I would find a way back the next year, and through hard work and determination, I did just that. After a very hectic flight schedule with delays and cancellations the previous day, I finally arrived in Washington, D.C. Waiting for me at the airport to help me with my bags was Patrick and his welcoming smile. We rode the metro to George Washington, where I got to pick out my room in the apartment and unpack. Later that day, I met the rest of the interns from both HEP/CAMP and USDA-HEP/CAMP. We ended the night by exploring the streets around GWU and letting the realization that I had made it back sink in. I couldn't be more excited to start this journey and see how much my life will transform by the end of the 10 weeks. 


 

05.27.2024 Memorial Day 


Today was Memorial Day, and Patrick and Virginia had planned a full day of tours and walking. We began at my favorite monument, the Lincoln Memorial, because of the feeling that arises when you visit early in the morning: just you and the city of Washington in front of those steps that hold so much history and significance. Twenty-one thousand steps later, the cohort had walked through the entire National Mall. We also toured and had lunch at the Capitol. Never in my life have I walked as much as I did today.  We visited the American Indian Museum, honored the soldiers of the Vietnam War, and got to take in D.C.’s beauty.  We took pictures with our states at the World War II Monument , and I got to reflect on the fact that I soon would be working in our nation's capital, a dream I never allowed myself to even fathom. In just a few days, I would be the intern, giving constituent tours of the Capitol, attending briefings, and using the underground tunnels to navigate. Throughout the entire day, I felt a sense of pride and excitement as I came to terms with the fact that I would be part of the political hub of the nation, walking the historic steps that have shaped this country into what it is today.


 

05.28.2024 Hilltern Season Begins 

Today marked the first day of CHCI orientation. It was a long day of introductions and welcoming remarks. As I sat there in the NEA conference room, I could feel the pride and excitement to begin my journey in the most competitive and prestigious program in the nation for Latino youth. Marko Davis, the CEO of CHCI, made me feel comfortable taking up space in a room full of accomplished upperclassmen and aspiring politicians. By the end of orientation, HEP/CAMP quickly left to meet the rest of the interns for a dinner with stakeholders in our future and role models of the possibilities we could find here during our internship. We had some incredible pupusas and heard the introduction of successful Latino/as. Getting to speak with Giev Kashkooli, the Vice President of the UFW, reiterated that while I work on the Hill, I should focus on representing my community and our struggles. I had the opportunity to speak to the migrant education office and get advice from Jessica Stein and Dylan Hart-Medina about grad school and the accomplishments I had while working for the state senate. With this dinner, I realized how many people had paved the way for us to be here and how their determination, resilience, and success were now serving as inspiration for us to strive for our own goals. It was a powerful reminder of the community we were now a part of and the potential we had to make a difference in the world.

 

05.29.2024 Representation Matters

Today, we had a very unfortunate situation. We got lost during our search for the American History Museum staff entrance. None of the security guards or workers were able to tell us we were in the wrong building until one man did. When this

realization hit, we quickly made our way to the other side of the street, where the rest of the group was waiting. Even though we were a bit late, the tour of the Presente! Molina Gallery had not yet started. I love museums, and to have the opportunity to be there before everyone else was really special. Through the tour, we got to see our history on the walls: immigration, the border crossing Texas after the war, farmworker rights, and the Chicano movement powered by LULAC. By the end of the exhibit, I came to understand just how much representation matters. There are very few Latinos in this city, so knowing that we will have our own museum in the coming years was exciting. After another long day of programming, we ended the night by having a CHCI alum staff networking reception. I met some really interesting staffers and learned about their journey on the Hill and through CHCI.


 

05.30.2024 Lights, Camera, Action

My day alongside the rest of the GW students started at 3:00 in the morning when the fire alarm was pulled and the sirens blasted, saying a “fire was detected in the building." We later knew it was, in fact, false, and we were allowed back to our apartments. A few hours later, the preparation for our long day on the hill began. Our photoshoot session went really well; we all got our pictures taken, and Juan Diego taught us how to take better pictures. From our session, we rushed over to the USDA building, where we met up with the rest of the HEP/CAMP cohort and got to hear a panel on careers in agriculture and meet individuals such as Dr. Lisa Ramirez who have paved the way for us to be here. We rushed back to the Capitol to have lunch in the cafeteria, where we were greeted by two groups of 100 middle school students who were on a trip. After successfully navigating through them, we quickly ate and spent the rest of the day in the Capitol, hearing panels of CHCI alums, Congressional Hispanic Staffer Association members, and Hill staffers. Throughout the panels, I was able to learn more about what it is like to be a Latina on the Hill and gained a perspective that allowed me to see myself potentially in those seats in the future. I was able to connect with one of the staffers who works directly on the House Committee on Education and Labor. I gave her my business card and expressed my interest in learning more about her work. We ended the evening by having our final dinner as a cohort with Virginia and Patrick in Chinatown. We got to reflect on the week and watch the spicy chili sauce ruin the boys' tastebuds. Overall, the day was jampacked with networking opportunities and experiences that left me feeling inspired and motivated for my future endeavors in education policy.


 

05.31.2024 The End of an Era (Orientation)

The culmination of our hard work finally came to an end today. After many hours inside the NEA conference room, a dozen speakers, and Google Classroom visits, we officially wrapped up our onboarding with CHCI. We spent the day bonding with our cohort, exploring our groups, identities as Latinos, and generational differences. Our groups presented our chapters on climbing the hill and listened to advice on what to expect as interns on the hill. We wrote a letter to ourselves, which we will open at the end of graduation to see how much we have grown and learned throughout this experience. We ended by playing a very competitive game of jeopardy, which my group won by a landslide. Our final activity as a cohort before our lives revolved around the hill was a trip to Beat the Bomb, an interactive team-building experience where we had to work together to solve challenges. It was a really fun experience as we went underneath lasers, disarmed computers, and played video games. We ended the night with the six of us—Esmeralda, Gizel, Bryan, Joan, and Juan Diego getting pizza at the Western Market and having ice cream with Patrick and Virginia. We said goodbye to Patrick and took many pictures with him. He was a great sport and made our last night together as a group even more memorable. I will miss him and all the help he provided during the week, and I cannot wait to see him in July.


 

06.01.2024 Sunburns, Markets, and Museums

Happy June!! Today was our first rest day. Now that orientation was over, I got to sleep in and finally arranged my room the way I wanted it. By 11 a.m., a group of us met up with Virginia for the last time and went to the Eastern Market to explore and shop. There, we met Mexican vendors, overpriced organic vegetables, and cool prints. It was a great way to relax and get to explore some of the local culture before diving into our busy internship and programming schedule that awaited us. The Eastern Market definitely had a unique charm that made the experience memorable. At 3 pm, we made our way into the Air and Space Museum, where we were captivated by the planes and aircraft that greeted us. While going through the museum, there is this awe of realizing how far we have come and what is left to

uncover. I began to think that if my parents had brought me here when I was a kid, I probably would not be where I am today. It made me reflect on just how privileged the little kids who ran across the museum were, and how it is now up to us to provide these opportunities of curiosity to our future children. We were all sad to say goodbye to Virginia. We spent a week under her guidance alongside Patrick, and it was finally settling in that it would be up to us for the rest of the internship.



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