Unidos US Conference - Berenice Sosa

This summer, I had an amazing opportunity to attend the 2019 Unidos US Conference. While attending this conference I was not only able to view the beautiful city of San Diego, but also learn about the importance of being passionate, politically involved, along with networking.

While in San Diego, I was able to tour the US Midway Museum, Coronado Island, and downtown San Diego.  At the Midway Museum, I learned about the unique history of some of the original United States Airforce planes, along with how they shaped modern day aircraft. I also learned about the tight routines the Marines had while they were stationed at the Midway. For example, they did not shower every day because clean water was limited. Showers were at the bottom of the priority list. Due to the fact there were many marines stationed there, storage space was limited. This caused each person to have a storage locker that was big enough for their uniforms and a few personal items. Not only did I get to see the museum, but I was also able to visit Coronado Island.

This is a small island just off the coast of San Diego. I was very excited to visit this place because it was my first time seeing the ocean.  I had so much fun walking around and being able to burry my feet in the sand for the very first time. The sunset view was gorgeous, and the water felt amazing. Another area of San Diego that I was able to see was downtown, also known as the Gas Lamp District. This area had restaurants, cafes, and places to just hang out or meet people. It looked the most beautiful at night. The street lamps and vendors lit up the street. It was a very diverse area. I saw people from different backgrounds, which is refreshing coming from a small town in Idaho. I am grateful to have seen the different sides of San Diego.

I was also able to attend the Unidos US Conference. Here I learned the importance and value in being passionate, politically involved, and networking. All the speakers had one thing in common, it was their passion. For example, Pedro David Espinoza was passionate about helping a rural village in his home country of Peru; however, it was difficult for him to get the funding to transport people to the village. As a result, he and his college friends created a website that would make it easier for non-profits to get noticed by companies that were willing to donate. This website has helped thousands of non-profits get the funding needed to carry out their volunteer work, whether it was creating a food pantry or ocean clean up. Another example would be the Afro-latinx key-note speakers. They were passionate about showing us what it means to be part of the Afro-latinx community. This session helped me open my mind and realize the struggle that this community goes through. I also learned the value and importance of being politically involved.  Even though I am a DACA recipient and a non-eligible voter, I still like to know what is going on politically. This conference showed me the different ways that I can make my voice heard. One way is by being an aware consumer. There are several companies that donate money to organizations or campaigns that do not align with what I believe to be right.  As a consumer, I can refuse to support those companies and instead use my money to support companies that do align with my values. A corporation might not care if one consumer stops purchasing their items; however, if more people follow along, the corporation would clearly be able to see the effects. Along with that, I had the privilege to hear from some of the democratic candidates for the 2020 presidential elections, including Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Julian Castro, and a few more. This is the part of the conference I was looking forward to the most. It was amazing getting to hear their reasoning as to why they want to run for president, along with the actions they plan to take during their first one hundred days. They talked about topics I didn't realize had a lot of importance. For example, raising the minimum wage was something that I thought should happen, but I didn't think it was a big deal. After hearing the statistics, I soon realized that it was something that needed to be raised.  I also learned about the importance of networking. Networking was a word I was unfamiliar with; however, by the end of the conference, I considered it something I would value for the rest of my life.  I was very hesitant at first, I consider myself an introvert, so going up to people and introducing myself is very scary. I didn’t network on my own until the last day of the conference. When I did, all I could hear was Rick, our advisor, saying "all you have to do is say hi to someone", which was what I did. When I was in the plenary session, I introduced myself to the man sitting next to me. Right off the bat we began talking about pretty much everything. I told him about myself, where I'm from, what I plan to study, and what group I came with. Then, he began to talk about himself. He worked under the General Affairs department for PepsiCo and even worked for the Obama Administration. He told me about his experience working with former President Obama, which was amazing. I had so much fun talking to him, and I soon realized that networking was simple. I, along with other members of the group, began to tell him about FHLA and he was very impressed. He even gave us his business card to contact him if we ever need help with networking. Because of this conference, I feel like I now have the tools to not only pursue what makes me passionate, but to do it with confidence.

I would like to thank Community Council of Idaho, and everyone who made this trip possible. I am grateful to have learned so much and to have made strong relationships with those who came with me. This experience has taught me so much, whether it was coming together as a group and fundraising, or individually introducing myself to someone. It also taught me valuable leadership skills. Now that I am in college, I no longer worry about meeting the right people, or imposter syndrome, as we heard so much about.  The summer of twenty-nineteen will be a summer that I will never forget.

Luis Caloca