By: Margie Del Castillo
This was my first experience at NLIRH’s National Advocacy Weekend (NAW), but not my first time gathering with fellow NLIRH activists. My introduction to the Latina Institute happened in the Summer of 2012, when I attended the Southeastern LOLA regional training in Charlotte, NC. There, I was introduced to the concept of being an activist within and for a specific community, and not only on a single issue.
It was also there that I met Nancy Diaz and Rocio Rodarte, my fellow co-founders of DC, Maryland, Virginia-Latinas Organizing for Leadership and Advocacy (DMV-LOLA). And once again, the three of us gathered for NAW, excited to represent DMV-LOLA and get to know our counterparts from all across the country. As a group, we felt that the weekend afforded us so many new opportunities. We learned about different organizing tactics using social media, like how to reach our community through Twitter and tips on producing videos with our smartphones. We got updated on the current state of immigration reform from experts from the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund and the National Immigration Law Center, to name a few. We were inspired by NLIRH Board Member Laura Esquivel’s stories about her childhood and all the success she has earned throughout her life. We really enjoyed the Camino Media Academy and even got to see ourselves being interviewed on camera.
One of our most memorable moments was meeting fellow poderosa Lucy Felix, the Texas LAN coordinator. Lucy conducted a presentation on community organizing and, more specifically, how to build a base within your community. Since I’ve been involved with NLIRH, I have heard many great stories about Lucy, so it was awesome to finally have the chance to meet her in person. We, as DMV-LOLA, were also excited to talk to her and see what tips she could give us on building our base here in the DMV area.
We learned a lot from her over the weekend and the best part was, she was eager to continue our discussions after NAW was over. For DMV-LOLA, this means a lot, as we can count on Lucy, and the Texas LAN in general, for support and coalition building. We can share our organizing skills and continue to learn from each other as time goes by, and from the other wonderful poderosas and organizations that we met that weekend. That is, truly, poder.