As a first generation low income student, having the opportunity to intern in Washington DC for an entire semester has been the most surreal experience of my undergraduate career so far. Over the past few months in the nation's capital, I have interned for the Urban Libraries Council as a program intern under the Strategic Initiatives team. My responsibilities include researching how public libraries can best engage marginalized communities, such as youth at-risk of incarceration, English Language Learners and bilingual children. Because their work interacts with public libraries across the Bay Area, including Alameda County Library, my responsibilities directly impact my communities in my hometown. I create research scans, draft concept papers for future grant proposals, and analyze survey responses to inform the team on current practices used in public libraries to address food insecurity, digital equity, and anti-racism initiatives within their communities. Being able to bring in my lived experience as a Latina to inform my work and positively impact others has been the most rewarding and fulfilling aspect about interning in this organization so far.
When I am not interning, I am often exploring the many museums, monuments, parks, farmers markets, and local coffee shops the city has to offer. One of my favorite spots to visit has been the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. It not only provides a great place to study and eat in its cafe, but it also contains an entire floor dedicated to the stories of Martin Luther King and local Washington civil rights advocates for the public to read about. Being surrounded by so much rich history while having the opportunity to visit historic landmarks is truly the best thing about Washington DC. As the semester comes closer to an end, I hope to continue to learn how to best serve my communities both in California and across the nation, and grow from my time in Washington DC. Thank you to everyone in the Matsui Center, I am forever grateful for your encouragement and support in allowing me to come here!