All I Know is What I Know and What I Don't Know

Yvonne Dorantes with Assemblymember Anna Caballero

Last summer, I had the opportunity to be a part of Cal-in-Sacramento and intern for Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield); this experience opened my eyes to the endless policy activity that goes on in California, and especially at the State Capitol. As a result, I learned the legislative process alongside legislative limits. 

I grew up in a ranch surrounded by 360 degrees of crops; at many times, the crops that surrounded my house were filled with farm workers tending the fields, other times, those crops were being sprayed with some kind of pesticide. While interning at the Capitol, I learned that identifying crops and recognizing the growth process of each plant is not enough, there is so much more. The unseen is often controlled and crafted by policy. The Salinas Valley is known as "the Salad Bowl of the World." Last summer, in Sacramento, I was enlightened with the realization that the Salinas Valley is so much more diverse than I knew. In addition to the enlightenment of the many issue areas of the Salinas Valley, I learned of the many other issues areas that compose the diverse state of California. 

However, due to the fact that I realized how much I did not know about my very own hometown (Salinas), I was inspired to give back to my community and, most importantly, have direct encounters with the residents that are affected by the agricultural policies I witnessed being enacted last summer in Sacramento. 

Every morning this summer, I walk into Assemblymember Caballero’s district office in West Salinas which is decorated with beautiful artwork from around Monterey County. This artwork makes my relationship with the constituents of Monterey County feel more real. When I look up from my desk, I see a panoramic of a lettuce field. Not that the drive through fields of crops to the office every morning is not enough of a reminder, but, this panoramic reminds me of home and where I grew up. With this reminiscer, I am hopeful of connecting my roots deeply into my community and helping my community progress. This experience as a whole has truly transformed and expanded what I learned last summer about California’s legislative process, but, also about my very dear Salinas Valley.