By Megan Chapa
Breakfast started at 8 a.m. and there we chatted about the past day’s events and the one before us. It was interesting to exchange opinions about the presentations and workshops and how we were going to practice them in our communities.
Next, was a fundraising workshop, Go Fish: How to Catch (and keep) Contributors, by Ms. Nancy Bocskor. This was an interesting presentation where we learned many fascinating strategies on how to raise money. This was not only beneficial to those interested in politics, but also those who plan to work with non-profits organizations. We also learned the investor triangle and how to access low, mid, and big dollar donors. Fundraising goes hand-in-hand with relationship building and asking for what you want. Furthermore, without mastering the art of negotiation, it’s not possible to raise funds.
After a short break, Ms. Whitney Harp, introduced the Political Action Project that was assigned to us. For the next few days we will be studying House Bill 5 (HB5) and reenacting the committee hearing. This house bill changes graduation plans and introduces endorsements that will replace some of the previous required courses like algebra II. Everyone was assigned someone who played a significant role in respect to this bill. For example, some were arguing in favor of the bill, others against, and even some neutral. I was assigned Representative Alma Allen of District 131, who was in favor of HB5 with the exception that records be kept on the demographics of graduation plans selected by students. This amendment was added to ensure that HB5 was fair and did not serve as a hindrance or disadvantage for lower socioeconomic students. All were excited to see the future of this project. (editor’s note: the Governor signed this bill the day following this blog.)
Chicken wraps were served for lunch with a side of chips and fruit. We mingled and I conspired with others to help overcome those against HB5. After lunch there was also time reserved to work on our projects. I did some research on Honorable Alma Allen to get a feel of her character and moral integrity, both of which I plan to embody with grace and vigor. She is inspiring who has impacted policy in a positive way.
The afternoon was quite interesting and personal. The concept was to understand others and not be consumed by stereotypes. The theme was “The Danger of the Single Story.” We watched videos of women from Nigeria who have overcome the difficulties and are now represented in parliament. Their story was to defeat the stereotypes and overthrow corruption in Nigeria. This also segued into sharing cultural artifacts we were asked to bring.
We broke up into groups of eight and shared a little piece of our culture or background. This time was memorable and moving. I learned about victories, defeats, and most importantly, the growth that was developed through our experiences. I was inspired by Alyssa Davenport-Herbst. Alyssa struggles with a disability that has affected her speech. Despite all, she thrives in her academics and community involvement. She is a brilliant physicist who aspires to write science policy. She brought a book that tells the success story of many innovators and explained how this was where she draws inspiration to make a difference. Cultures are expansive.
We had dinner and after a brief discussion on Political Decision Making with Representative Mary E. Gonzales. She told us her story and the difficult situations that have affected her life. It was great insight on what to expect in and out of the political arena.
To end the night we gathered around the fire and made s’mores!
I thought it was pretty “sweet” to mingle with my new friends; people who began to unmask and be themselves. I am grateful for their diverse views and their representation across the political spectrum.