DNC Journal Entry: Day Eleven

Note: I am currently in Philadelphia for the Democratic National Convention. I attended an academic seminar last week and am doing a fieldwork placement during the convention. I am writing a daily journal to reflect on my experience and will post my entries here. Enjoy! 

It was pouring rain outside when I walked to the Wells Fargo Center for the final time last Thursday. At the volunteer and security checkpoint tents, volunteers gave out clear plastic ponchos to us, as it was a long walk from the security tent to the Wells Fargo Center. The afternoon went by quickly and I checked people’s credentials on the club floor as I have been doing all week. Dolores Huerta, whom I met the night before, happened to be there! Before I knew she was around, she recognized me and made sure to say hello. I believe that was right after she gave her speech at the Democratic National Convention (DNC). As I was working on the club floor at that time, I was unable to see it in person or on television.

When it was nearly time for Hillary to speak, my supervisor who was responsible for security on our floor let me go, so I could watch Hillary’s speech. Since the firefighters were concerned about the number of people inside the stadium, I could not get inside and watch Hillary’s speech in person. Instead, I found a television in a hall right outside of the stadium and watched her speech there. It was still surreal, knowing that only one thin wall separated me from where all of it was happening!

Earlier that evening, I watched numerous prominent politicians, special guests, and staffers bring their little girls to watch Hillary accept the nomination. I am sure they wanted their daughters, granddaughters, and other special little girls in their lives to know that they are more than capable of becoming president one day. There were many more little girls than boys. For once, that night was for them. Many little girls whom I saw wore red, blue, and white patriotic outfits and donned either Hillary or some kind of female power shirt. They could not have looked more adorable.

I forgot to cover gender-neutral restrooms in one of my earlier posts. Both the Pennsylvania Convention Center and the Wells Fargo Center had big gender-neutral public restrooms. The first one I went to in the Wells Fargo Center was right outside of the hall that leads people to the floor, so it was extremely busy and often used by delegates or other people who have access to the floor. Before this week, I do not think I have ever gone to a big, busy gender-neutral restroom that has at least eight stalls. At one point while washing my hands there, I was the only female in the public section of the restroom with five other men. It felt weird and I had to assure myself that I was not in the wrong restroom. It also felt funny putting on my lipstick in front of men! That is not a bad thing though. Gender-neutral restroom is simply a new concept and may take some time before it becomes the norm. I love how progressive Democrats are with this issue. I went to my first public gender-neutral restroom at the DNC, after all. I hope I will see more restrooms like this one in other places later.

 

DNC Journal Entry: Day Ten

Note: I am currently in Philadelphia for the Democratic National Convention. I attended an academic seminar last week and am doing a fieldwork placement during the convention. I am writing a daily journal to reflect on my experience and will post my entries here. Enjoy! 

In my yesterday’s post, I said I would never forget last Tuesday. Well, this week keeps on getting better! I will not ever forget yesterday either, as it was the day when I saw our current President of the United States (POTUS)! Yes, Barack Obama. I am thrilled that I was finally able to see him in person before his second term ends this January. President Obama presented a magnificent case about why Americans should vote for Hillary and argued that this election is bigger than disputes between two parties because the outcome will reflect who we are as Americans overall. I loved the part when Obama commented that nobody else has ever been more qualified than Hillary to be president, not even himself or Bill. He also said he was ready to pass the baton to her.

When I thought my night could not have gotten any better, Hillary Clinton surprised us by coming on stage! This is my fourth time seeing Hillary in person and I swear it does not get any less amazing each time. I might have been less starstruck this time, but it was just as wonderful to see my number one role model in person again.

Before President Obama spoke last night, I worked at my usual post on the club floor near the suites and lounges where there often are sightings of prominent politicians and celebrities. This time, I spotted Joe Kennedy, another member of the political dynasty family, and Lynda Carter, the Original Wonder Woman! I also saw Bernie Sanders’ campaign manager, Jeffrey Weaver, briefly making a conversation with someone a few feet away from me. When it was almost time for Obama to come on stage, three Gallaudet students, including me, went inside the stadium with an interpreter to watch his speech. Obama’s speech was moving for me, as I went to his 2008 inauguration and now there I was during what probably was his last major speech as the president. I was there from the very beginning of his presidency to the very ending and it seems almost like a full circle now.

After this unforgettable moment, we headed to the closest Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) rail station and were on our way back to Temple University, where we were staying. When we got off at one station to change trains, Dolores Huerta happened to be there and we met her. I nearly screamed when I realized that the lady next to us was actually Dolores herself. Yes, that famous Mexican-American civil rights activist who did numerous remarkable things, such as founding the National Farmworkers Association/United Farm Workers. Having the ultimate respect for her, I felt very fortunate to chat with her briefly. Out of all places in Philadelphia, I would never have thought to find her at a random SEPTA station at 1 o’clock in the morning. Dolores was very friendly and recalled how she knew a former Gallaudet student. I did not recognize the name, but that was still cool! The woman whom Dolores was traveling with also recognized me from Deaf People for Hillary. I believe we spoke earlier this week, but we finally exchanged our contact information that night. The hearing world can be small, indeed! From the Original Wonder Woman to Barack Obama to Hillary Clinton to Dolores Huerta, so many incredible people are at the DNC.

 

DNC Journal Entry: Day Nine

Note: I am currently in Philadelphia for the Democratic National Convention. I attended an academic seminar last week and am doing a fieldwork placement during the convention. I am writing a daily journal to reflect on my experience and will post my entries here. Enjoy! 

I will never forget yesterday. I had the opportunity to be on stage with about ten other people with disabilities for the gavel in, the Pledge of Allegiance, national anthem, and Senator Harkin’s remarks to the audience about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in honor of its 26th anniversary. Senator Harkin has a Deaf brother and always has been a prominent advocate for the disability community. It is too bad that he is not in the Senate anymore! He even taught the audience how to sign “America” and pointed out how fitting that sign is, describing how “we all are brought together and no one is left out in this circle of life that is America”. He went on to talk about how that is the America that Hillary Clinton and all of us want, where it does not matter whether or not one is disabled and everyone is still “respected, valued, and treated with dignity”.

It was very inspiring to stand on the stage at that time, watch thousands of people listen to Harkin about how important it is for our party to value people with disabilities, and see many in the audience applauding in agreement. I am very proud to belong to a party that strongly advocates for disability rights. I knew some other people who were on stage with me from our previous work for the Disability Action for Hillary. One individual even recognized me from Deaf People for Hillary Facebook page! After last night, I am sure all of us are more certain than ever that we are in the right party.

The people who made that ADA celebration happen and arranged for me to be on the stage gave me a floor pass, so I could be on stage during that moment. Afterwards, they told me I could stay on the floor for the rest of evening. I was free to walk around and sit wherever I want. I learned that individuals from Iowa, Ohio, and Virginia state delegations need sign language interpreters, so I assume they are Deaf delegates. I do not know much more though and plan to find out. It will be fantastic to meet and talk with Deaf delegates about their experiences later!

Last night’s speech line-up was terrific and featured people like Elizabeth Banks, Donna Brazile, Cecile Richards, Eric Holder Jr., Madeleine Albright, Meryl Streep, and Lena Dunham. The most emotional part of the night was when Mothers of the Movement came on stage and spoke about how important it is for us to elect Hillary. One mother said Hillary is not afraid to say black lives matter and another said she did not ask to be here or to have her child killed. It was also powerful when all Democratic Congresswomen took the stage and one by one, gave reasons why they are with Hillary. Of course, I cannot forget Bill Clinton. He delivered an eloquent, long speech about Hillary and started it with “In the spring of 1971, I met a girl”. Bill shared personal stories and emphasized how she is “the best darn change-maker” that he has ever known. At one point, he commented on how she has never been satisfied with the status quo and always wants to move forward. His speech was very effective in laying out Hillary’s dedication to public service.

I was there on the floor earlier when the roll call took place and Bernie Sanders moved to suspend the procedural rules and select Hillary as the Democratic nominee. She became the first female nominee of any major party in the United States. That is going down in history books. When it happened, I just stood there and had to take a moment to allow it to sink in. After 240 years of men winning major party nominations and holding the most powerful office in our country, we finally have a female nominee. It is time for us to take another step forward and make her the first female president this November!

Just before the convention was closed for the night, they showed a portrait of every single president of the United States. All 44 of them are males and showing all of their portraits took a while. It forced everyone in the audience to really think how we have never had any female president before. All the male presidents then were put together in a mosaic before it was cracked like a glass ceiling to show a live video of Hillary from New York. That sent chills up my spine. Hillary looked like a badass boss when she showed up. I simply love how she acted entitled to win this nomination after all these years, just like men did when they won theirs.

I will tell my children stories about this day and how I was there when Hillary made history! Some feel like she should not focus so much on this historic moment, but I think dedicating a portion of this night to its historic significance is worthwhile, especially as the rest of the night already was about highlighting other parts of Hillary like her commitment to public service.IMG_2506

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DNC Journal Entry: Day Eight

Note: I am currently in Philadelphia for the Democratic National Convention. I attended an academic seminar last week and am doing a fieldwork placement during the convention. I am writing a daily journal to reflect on my experience and will post my entries here. Enjoy! 

Day Eight

On the first day of the convention, I took a subway to the Pennsylvania Convention Center and attended the disability council meeting. Among the speakers at the meeting were people with whom I worked on Hillary’s campaign this year and got to know more from Disability Action for Hillary group. I had to see and talk with them before the meeting, as I only knew some of them through emails and finally met them in person for the first time yesterday. I might have only met them a day ago, but it does not feel that way. Because of the work we did together and the goal of electing Hillary as the next president that we share, they kind of feel like my Hillary family and I was super excited to connect with my beloved Hillary people.

One wonderful individual I know is blind and we never had any problem communicating through emails. We both are here for the convention and wanted to meet in person. Since I am Deaf and she is blind, I did have doubts about whether or not we would be able to communicate effectively in person yet I also knew we would find a way. With the use of technology, we ended up being able to communicate directly using Siri and an app that translates from text to speech. Technology is amazing, indeed. If it were not for our association with Disability Action for Hillary, we probably would never have attempted and found a way to chat in person. Campaigns certainly do bring people together! After hearing several powerful speeches, I left and headed over to the Wells Fargo Center for my 3 pm shift with other Gallaudet students and faculty members who are also assigned to the Democratic National Convention Committee (DNCC).

It was surreal to be inside the Wells Fargo Center when the DNC officially kicked off last night. As a political junkie, I could not get over the fact that I was actually here during this historic moment. With all the important speeches and protests taking place last night, it was like the epitome of American politics. I had the chance to see several speakers on the floor and I do not think I will ever forget that moment!

I have never ever met and seen so many prominent politicians and famous individuals in one day, as I did last night while screening attendees’ credentials and making sure they were in the right place. The first important people I met were Patrick Kennedy and his wife, Amy. John Fitzgerald Kennedy is his uncle. Patrick and Amy were quite friendly. Patrick mentioned how he remembers Gallaudet University very well from his time as a U.S. Congressman and commented about it fondly. I also spoke with Benjamin Jealous, a former National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) president, and Betty McCollum, a Congresswoman representing Minnesota. It turns out that she is friends with Bobbi Cordano, the new President of Gallaudet University. Sometimes we forget how small the world can be, even for hearing politicians and that many important politicians do have connections with Deaf people.

DNC Journal Entry: Day Seven

Note: I am currently in Philadelphia for the Democratic National Convention. I attended an academic seminar last week and am doing a fieldwork placement during the convention. I am writing a daily journal to reflect on my experience and will post my entries here. Enjoy! 

Day Seven

Last night, some of us who have fieldwork placements with the Democratic National Convention Committee (DNCC) and will work as Access Control volunteers went to the volunteer training at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. This is where caucus and council meetings will take place. During the training tonight, people in charge of the Access Control Team explained to us volunteers about our duties and other details about the convention. I will be working at the Wells Fargo Center everyday from Monday to Thursday. I will always need to show up at 2:30 pm and should be able to leave by 11:30 pm every night, but it depends on how late the convention ends each night.

Basically, I will be responsible for screening attendees’ credentials when they enter the specific area where I will be assigned to work. People will wear different types of credentials at the convention and all of them have different colors. Not all locations inside the Wells Fargo Center will be open to all attendees. I will have to check the colors and dates of people’s credentials and make sure that they have access to a certain area on that day before permitting them to pass and enter the location. The trainers showed us a diagram that indicated what areas people with each color have access to. I will receive more details about this during my first shift tomorrow when I know which area I will be assigned to, but this is the general idea of what I will be doing during the convention. I, along with two other Gallaudet students assigned to the same area, will have interpreters with us, so we can answer people’s questions about where to go. Our yellow volunteer shirts have huge ASK ME words on the back.

It is hard to believe that the first week is over and today is the last day before the DNC begins tomorrow! I used the free time that I had to finish up my first week’s essay, go to several other Political Fest exhibits, and see more parts of Philadelphia. I knew I probably would not have much time this week, so I did all of these things today. This week will be exciting. More to come soon!

DNC Journal Entry: Day Six

Note: I am currently in Philadelphia for the Democratic National Convention. I attended an academic seminar this week and will be doing a fieldwork placement during the convention. I am writing a daily journal to reflect on my experience and will post my entries here. Enjoy! 

Day Six

Last Thursday, I went to the Democratic National Convention (DNC) Volunteer Kickoff party at Penn’s Landing. I do not think I have ever seen so many American flags at one event before! I loved how patriotic the party was. They gave out a lot of free food, beers, and things for volunteers. There were even mini decorative American flags for us to bring home! I ended up bumping into the same woman I met a day earlier at the Hillary Clinton campaign office where some of us made official signs for the DNC. That woman loved our Deaf-related signs and asked if she could post pictures of us on her Facebook. It turns out that she is also a volunteer for the convention! Again, it is a small world. Perhaps, both Hillary and Deaf worlds are small!

As I had some free time today before my DNC training in the evening, I took the opportunity to go to different Political Fest exhibits around the city. Philadelphia is hosting numerous events during the DNC like Political Fest. It is a series of political-related events & exhibits in different parts of Philadelphia. With my credentials, I have free access to all Political Fest attractions. In one location near the Pennsylvania Convention Center, I saw the actual last “safe car” that John Fitzgerald Kennedy rode in only a few hours before he was fatally shot. I also saw a replica of the fuselage in Air Force One.

There was also a huge campaign button collection shop in the Political Fest and I loved seeing vintage campaign buttons of Walter Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro’s campaign. Ferraro was the first female vice-presidential nominee of a major party in the United States and I felt like it was fitting for me to see her buttons right before the first female is nominated for president by a major party. We cannot forget the strong women who blazed the trail for Hillary.

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DNC Journal Entry: Day Five

Note: I am currently in Philadelphia for the Democratic National Convention. I am attending an academic seminar this week and will be doing a fieldwork placement during the convention next week. I am writing a daily journal to reflect on my experience and will post my entries here. Enjoy! 

Day Five

This morning, we had the opportunity to tour the Wells Fargo Center where the Democratic National Convention (DNC) will take place, which gave me a better idea of where I will be doing my fieldwork placement. My fieldwork placement is with the DNC Committee in the Wells Fargo Center. I will get more information about my duties during the training tomorrow evening. I start on Monday and my shifts will be from 5pm to 11pm-1am. What time I finish will vary every night.

My two primary goals during the convention are to make connections with people involved with Hillary Clinton’s campaign, especially in the disability area, and meet people in the Maryland state delegation. I also want to attend at least one caucus meeting, such as the one for women. I am curious to see what a caucus meeting is like.

As I am currently doing Deaf People for Hillary capstone project, I will benefit from making connections in Hillary’s campaign. It may help with what I plan to do for my project this fall. I already know a Hillary delegate, who is heavily involved with the disability community, and we plan to meet sometime during the convention. I will go from there and see who else I can meet and make connections with for future endeavors.

Regarding my second goal, I would love to be part of Maryland state delegation someday. I have been much more involved with politics on the national level, but I think if I really want to pursue a career in politics, it is important for me to meet and get to know people from my state. There are numerous ways in how I can work with my state for changes.

I will contact several Maryland delegates through social media and see what is the best way to meet with them. If I happen to see Maryland delegates at the convention, I plan to approach them and introduce myself. The Maryland state delegation’s official hotel is the Hilton Inn at Penn, so I may stop by at their hotel and see with whom I may be able to talk to. Without a doubt, next week will be an exciting one, filled with opportunities to meet new people and witness herstory in the making!

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See a white podium in the background? This is where Hillary Clinton will be nominated as the first female presidential candidate of a major party in the United States!

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