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A few months ago, I was standing in the shower, I realized that everything I want to do with my life- change the course and the conversation about international human development both at home and abroad, ensure the continuation of life on earth - will be influenced by who wins this presidential election. And so I decided to go on staff with Swing Semester.
Four years ago, Swing Semester helped me move to Cleveland, Ohio, and supported me in finding a job, a place to live and a community that could hold me as I did the work of door-to-door organizing for the election. It was hard work. A native Californian with a life-long distrust of the middle of the country, I entered with many prejudices - most of which were stripped away from me as I came face-to-face with Americans being Americans. I remembered the feeling at the end of the election, when I sat on the floor of our office with my co-workers and watched people cry.
It was that experience - the doors slammed in my face, the young people who didn't listen to me but when on with their lives, people questioning why a Californian had come to Ohio - that forced me to look deep into myself and try to figure out what it meant to be an American, and why (even if) I am proud to be an American.
And I was. I am. I am proud, today, to look at the presidential tickets - on both sides, and know that, in my own small way, I was able to help make this moment possible. I had the same realization many of us did - that young people needed to be organized and invested in, and that, really, the crisis wasn't just economical or political, but a crisis of the American Soul. Who are we, really? In the face of everything - global warming, economic recession boardering on depression, too much to do in not enough time, busy, often empty lives - who shall we be?
We're the only country founded (though imperfectly) on an ideal, and it is the dream of America that pulls me forward, a dream that has yet to be fully realized. We did not choose to be born here, but we can choose to live here and live here fully, and with strength, working to create equality, truth and justice for all. We can create America today as it has never been created before - with open eyes, open hearts and open minds. We can, if we all join this work, on the ground, wherever we are, without waiting.
So when my friend Anima La Voy called me and asked me to join her in re-creating Swing Semester - this time with a strong curriculum, supporting staff (2 city captains in each of our cities plus a national staff) and the chance to do community-events, I said yes and moved across the country to join her and her stellar team. It's youth-centered AND intergenerational; it's a real-world political seminar with real-world results that matter; it's moving from interest to action to make our hopes a reality.
Let's work together. Join us in Denver, Cincinatti, VA - and invite us to join you. Only together can we create our country anew to rise to the challenges with hope - and a real chance of change.