A Story to Tell and Teach
This poem reflects on my experience in Chicago on February 14th-18th. I was invited from Central Washington University to attend the 2018 United States Hispanic Leadership Institute. Most of the poem was written during the time of the conference expressing my thoughts, lessons, memories and emotions. One may considered this poem as a testimony, while others may consider a once in a lifetime experience. This poem is dedicated to all of those who attended the conference, those who want to attend in the future and to those who want to learn from this experience.
There are many opportunities that life offers,
and some choose to take a chance.
It can be anything, so you can be a part of something even bigger.
This occurred to me and 25 other students
at Central Washington University,
where we were selected to attend
the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute, in Chicago.
It’s interesting to see how different we all are,
like the different majors and specializations that we are in
or even the stories we share.
But one thing that we all have in common,
from first-year students to seniors,
is the leadership potential, and that is a gifted privilege.
A privilege of where a group of strangers,
becomes a loving, caring and humble community.
During the first day of the adventure,
Sitting and waiting for the arrival
the plane ride was long and exhausting.
it felt like many years were being passed by
while at the same time, feeling nauseous and hangery.
By the time we all arrived, there was more waiting involved,
which should have been written out as a requirement.
On the limo ride, we didn’t just dance,
But shared our stories of suffrage and the barriers of education.
After arriving to the luxurious and powerful Sheraton Grand Hotel,
the staff fixed our inner hangery faces, into happy and peaceful students,
by taking all of us to Giordano’s for the Chicago style pizza.
For many of us, it was the first time trying a different style of pizza.
However, it was the start of our community building,
and the act of communion.
Meanwhile, a former Central student stopped by the neighborhood,
And joined our act of communion.
He saw potential in all of us to achieve our dreams,
but that was only the beginning.
The next day, all seemed too real
as many of us were dressed up, along with our confidence
Personally, I almost forgot mine
until my two empowering roommates told me to bring it
with a dose of a smile.
From there, I grabbed it and I thanked them for the reminder.
Like myself and the other students,
we had the opportunity to either connect with other students
or connect with professionals that would open our doors to us.
Later on, we had a satisfied break,
filled with photo shoots of the city
and selfies…or groupies, in this case.
The staff took all of us to visit The Bean,
where we became models in action.
That same action continued later that night,
all thanks to Dolores Huerta and Denice Frohman
because they began to teach the importance of empowerment.
Oh, what a privilege it is to be here!
It truly is a privilege that many of us, will never forget!
Just by being here, we bond and build a sense of community;
not just with each other
but with other schools in Oregon and Washington state,
all thanks to the Hon. John Haroldson.
He wanted all of us to create connections,
with each other and a sense of belonging.
Haroldson not only completed that purpose,
but the speakers, the workshop presenters
and the Central staff did as well.
They each provided multiple doses of inspiration,
as a call to action para justicia!
The next day, there was so much community building,
and social justice involvement within the workshops.
I’ll never forget the upbeat music during dinner,
as well as the self-love that everyone gave.
I’ll never forget the exploration of the city,
where we physically saw monuments and buildings
that we all thought that were in pictures and movies.
Even though many of the students are not in the classroom,
we are still learning new concepts by the teachers around us.
It’s important to teach the world
“¡Sí se puede!” and it’s possible to do anything.
We continue to let our voices to be heard,
and not to have fear because it is our worst enemy.
If fear comes and knocks at your door,
you pick up your shoes, put them on, and run to achieve success.
There are 3 E’s that really sum up the Chicago experience:
Empowerment, exploration, and excellence
All of which can be accomplished.
As the conference comes to an end, it’s a reminder
to take the knowledge you have learned,
and put into practice in the real world.
Look at us, what do you see?
You may see some new friends that you made,
some similar memories that you shared,
and a once in a lifetime opportunity.
But, I don’t see that at all.
Instead, I see 26 emerging champions,
that chose to challenge themselves,
and are ready to climb the ladder to win the gold medal,
on whatever path they choose to go,
and 5 coaches that guide them to success.
For many students, it is a blessing to attend USHLI,
and now it is our turn to make the change, and to continue to grow;
as well as to show the world our story to teach them that
With a little bit of risk and dedication, anything is possible.