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La Voz de Nuestros Lideres: Jossie Flor Sapunar, LULAC National Intern

Posted by Jossie Flor Sapunar on 11/21/2011 @ 12:20 PM

Arizona’s SB 1070 came to me as a shock. Living in a more tolerant community in the outskirts of Baltimore City, I never perceived that Latinos would so blatantly be discriminated in an age that already fought (and won) the battle for universal civil rights. As I tried to calm my indignation, I realized the anachronism of the law. Surely Martin Luther King Jr. had triumphed in equalizing the playing field for everyone of color. Cesar Chavez paved the road for Latino rights. What, then, was this law doing in a democratic age of tolerance and equality?

As I searched for some satisfying answer, I was introduced to LULAC, the largest and oldest civil rights and advocacy group, which sought to comprehensively advance the condition of Latinos in the U.S. In my quiet part of Baltimore, I had never encountered such direct prejudice of this magnitude but I was distraught in discovering that in this great nation, so hailed as being guided by equality and freedom, that in the mighty, God-graced country of the United States of America, discrimination still prevailed. I was beyond crestfallen.

I realized that I had been living in ignorance. Others lauded my intelligence—my own father bragged to his friends that his daughter would be graduating from the Johns Hopkins University, a competitive, world-renowned institute of higher learning. Yet, this so-called intelligence was limited to mere book knowledge of academic theory and ideals. My further research confirmed that I had been shielded by my well-intentioned family of the true condition of the United States.

I knew I had to join LULAC to help them succeed in their mission.

So here I write today, sitting in the LULAC National Office. I have been a communications intern for more than a month and my time here has allowed me to write press releases, opinion-editorials, news articles, testimonies, Congressional letters, and documentary supplements. I have researched historical, societal, economic, and political issues and their impact on the Latino community. The experience has rounded me out and opened my eyes to the full reality of the U.S. Gerrymandering, racial profiling, and unequal opportunities exist, and, through the power of my words, I can help reverse their damaging effects.

Once I leave, I will continue this mission elsewhere. Others should be able to live in the same utopia I did as a young undergraduate—studying until late with brothers and sisters of every color and creed, and knowing that nothing hinders us from success except our own personal ambition. Through the continued efforts of organizations like LULAC, this vision will cease to be some lofty faraway dream and will instead materialize into a universal existence, and for that I am grateful to have participated in the LULAC mission, which, I trust will, one day, be satisfied.

“They say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” –Andy Warhol

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La Voz de Nuestros Lideres: Irene Graciano, LULAC National Intern

Posted on 11/21/2011 @ 12:20 PM

My name is Irene Graciano and I am from Los Angeles, CA. This is my third year in college and I am majoring in Government and Sociology at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. However, this semester I am attending American University as part of the Washington Semester Program. The emphasis of my program is Justice & Law. I am interested in issues concerning national security, law enforcement, and criminology. This program gives us the opportunity to hear from numerous speakers in the law enforcement field and from the federal level in DC. The best part of the program is that we are allowed to intern in order to make our semester in DC a worthwhile working experience in the capital.

Through this program, I heard about LULAC. In my search for an internship, I knew that I wanted to do something related to civil rights and Hispanics. As a Hispanic myself, there are issues that concern me and should be addressed by those in power. I was looking for an organization that was doing something for the Hispanic community, not only at the local level, but also at the national level. I love serving the community, volunteering, and empowering them with any resources that I can. When I saw LULAC’s homepage, I immediately felt attracted to it because I saw the involvement they had – and continue to have – in order to improve the condition, and protect the rights, of Hispanics in the United States. At that moment, I knew that working with LULAC would give me a more intimate approach to the many issues that the Hispanic community faces. Maybe I would not experience one-on-one contact with each community member, but, through all of our contributions to the LULAC organization, we can reach out to Hispanics and facilitate their access to all the resources that are available to help them.

Currently, I have been working on a variety of projects here at LULAC with an emphasis on community relations. I work behind the scenes by maintaining LULAC’s key web pages, posting events online to share with others via Facebook and Twitter, and serving the Hispanic community through the Internet. The Internet has become an important tool in the world of today; therefore, it is important to improve our online outreach for the benefit of the community.

After starting my internship this September, and now with almost a month left in LULAC, I can say that the work that I am doing here will definitely reach the Hispanic community and provide them with the information necessary to make a difference. I am looking forward to learning more during the remainder of my time here as I continue to work on issues that are important to the Hispanic community.

The League of United Latin American Citizens, the country's oldest and largest civil rights organization, recruits highly talented and dedicated interns year-round to work with our national office in Washington D.C. Interns can choose to collaborate with any one of the following departments: policy, programs, communications, membership, special events, development, fiscal or executive. For more information, or to apply for a LULAC internship, click here to learn more!

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