2011 Summer Interns Begin Congressional Placements

Thirty-one eager college students arrived at the CHCI office on June 6 to begin an exciting week of orientation for the CHCI Congressional Internship Program. In preparation for this life-changing experience, the 2011 CHCI Summer Interns spent the first five days of their eight-week tenure learning about CHCI and working on Capitol Hill, while exploring their Hispanic heritage.

Learning About CHCI
On the first day, Esther Aguilera, President & CEO, gave an inspirational welcome and a thorough overview of CHCI and the importance of CHCI's programs and services offered to Latino youth. Her presentation included a historical view of the changing Hispanic demographics over the last thirty years and the affect those demographics have on the U.S. economy and global competitiveness. The interns were later joined by CHCI staff members who facilitated personal introductions with explanations of the various jobs that work together at CHCI. Finally, the programs team spent the afternoon preparing the interns for what to expect during their eight-week experience.

A Day on the Hill
Day two began with a photo shoot on Capitol Hill where all the interns received professional headshots. The rest of the day was spent learning about the culture and the nuances of working in Congressional offices. They met with the Congressional Hispanic Staff Association and had lunch on the Hill. In the afternoon, CHCI Alumni gave the interns valuable insights about life on Capitol Hill, the value of CHCI, and the importance of networking and professionalism. The day ended with a training segment at the Library of Congress about the Congressional Research Service.

Professionals Share Insights
Professional development was on the agenda for day three. Speakers from a variety of organizations volunteered their time to meet with the interns. The keynote speaker was Dan Restrepo, Senior Advisor for Western Hemisphere at National Security Council, who spoke about the United States and how it cooperates with other countries in the Western Hemisphere on issues of economic and political security. Interns also benefited from a Capitol Hill writing seminar, led by Hilary Binder-Aviles of Mosaica: The Center for Nonprofit Development. Mark Lopez, Associate Director of the Pew Hispanic Center, spoke about the demographic changes in the United States brought on by the Hispanic population and the attitudes of young people who belong to this group. The day ended with a discussion on leadership—what it means and how to foster it.

Adventures in Team Building
The interns took a short road trip for a day of team building on Thursday. Mastering a local ropes course challenged the group to work together toward problem-solving, while testing individual strengths. It was a fun day of bonding and fresh air that brought the group even closer together.

What "Latino" Means to Me
During "Latino Day," the class explored what it means to be Latino by examining the history, arts, and culture that make up a rich and distinguished past and shape the future. This powerful day gave these young minds a strong foundation in Latino culture and challenged them to delve deeper into their own heritage and personal histories. Guest speakers included Ricardo Ortiz, Associate Professor of U.S. Latino Literature at Georgetown University; Randal Woodaman, Exhibitions and Public Programs Director, Smithsonian Latino Center; and Amilcar Guzman, CHCI Alumni Association Programs Coordinator. There was also a screening of "Through Our Eyes: 30 Years of the D.C. Latino Story."