Here is the thing about my summer in the capital of the United States: now my life cannot function without coffee and brunch.
I applied for an internship in American Apparel & Footwear Association for the summer of 2016 at the beginning of January. Little did I know, I was going to start a journey and a life-changing experience in the midst of a crazy election year, metro reparations, and my growth as a person and as a young professional. I will start my senior year at Mercyhurst University, this fall, and soon enough embark on my journey toward “adulthood.”
During my time in AAFA I learned about trade, commerce, product safety, chemical management and government relations of the apparel and footwear industry. I had the opportunity to visit the Capitol Hill to lobby with my association for Generalized System of Preferences and attended weekly meetings about Trans Pacific Partnership, where on time they asked me whether I supported Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump – which my response was assertively, none.
This is not a post about politics (we get enough “terrible” news from the media) or fashion but about life.
During my stay in D.C. I learned that strangers can become best friends, I managed to live with 13 hard-working interns in the same house. A house that we found in Craigslist and that became my home and my happy place; full of life, screams, late-nights talks about who we are and we want to be.
It is amazing how a bunch of 20-something-year-olds can have the aggressiveness to decide we deserve a better world and that working hard is not an option in our lives anymore – but our duty. Two months is not enough, when you found lifelong friends, who share your passions about politics, coffee, brunch, porch mornings and nights, and the vibrancy of life – in general. You guys know who you are – I love you to pieces.
Everyday, as I walked the streets of D.C. realizing how formal everyone looks in this city, or when I sat down in the middle of the National Mall and did my favorite thing in the world – people watching – I could not help to think about the people that came before me.
I managed to think about the strong women that fought for voting rights that sometimes we take for granted, civil rights activist that fought their whole lives for equality and to pursue the same rights as their white counterpart. How one day the American people would end up electing the first African American president in the history of the United States, thanks to the efforts of those who thought they could make it.
In addition, I kept thinking how everyday the branches of government pass laws that affect the lives of Americans and those citizens of the world.
I couldn’t help but think that we’re part of history – even if it doesn’t always seem like it. We are making history from the moment we decide that we want a better world.
I took the time to think that the homeless person next to me deserves three meals every day, that the immigrant should not be discriminated because of their efforts to work hard in a country of endless opportunities, that all lives matter.
We should not be victims of the vices of intolerance, hate, fear and indifference.
As I stood up and started to head home, I realized I had a duty to work hard for a better world – for my Hispanic fellows that cross the border of this country, putting their lives at risk, because they have a dream and for every strong person that came before me – that my legacy will be kept alive, even centuries later, when I am no longer around – and for the first time, I was free.