OUT ON THE HILL is the official blog of the Victory Congressional Interns. Views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of LGBTQ Victory Institute. Learn more about the internship at victoryinstitute.org/vci.
Art is valuable, with or without motifs. The messages portrayed through art allude to deeper meanings–personal and impactful.
My time on Capitol Hill was a unique journey due to a variety of factors contributing to my own intersectionality. As a first-generation, queer, Bangladeshi-Muslim female, I encountered and overcame various social, emotional, and political barriers/obstacles.
I took away a lot from my time working for Congress–about our history, our government, and most importantly, our people. But, I noticed one thing that remained the same from the start to the end of my Victory Institute Congressional Internship: the lack of people who look like me on Capitol Hill. I noticed this for Washington, D.C. overall as well and believed it was my mission to make my presence not only present but seen, heard, and felt. It is often said that those who are Asian–especially Southeast Asian, are better off in “STEM” related occupations and career paths. It is not uncommon for Southeast Asian parents to pressure their children into becoming and pursuing doctor, engineer, or lawyer positions. I have come to realize there is a lack of “Brown” or “Desi” representation in places like Capitol Hill, not just because of external societal norms, but because of internal community-based stereotypes, too.
I managed to find ways to incorporate and highlight the aspects of diversity that I could bring to Capitol Hill and Washington, D.C. in general by taking advantage of the time I had in spaces during Victory programming, interning on Capitol Hill, volunteering, attending events, and more. I wear outfits and accessories, like handmade earrings that are modern with a Southeast Asian traditional touch, with “Western” clothing.
A subtle touch can go a long way.
Wearing something as small as a little golden pin with the Victory Institute logo on it created conversations, interactions, and established connections–beyond work atmospheres.
My additional simple touches to what I wore and brought to various atmospheres started conversations–sometimes uncomfortable – “No, but where are you really from?”. It is important to be able to be able to be comfortable with the uncomfortable, just like it is important to expect the unexpected.
I am beyond grateful for how much has been given to me through the LGBTQ+ Victory Institute Congressional Internship, the Congressional/Legislative Office of Congressman Adam Schiff, and the volunteering opportunities and events in Washington, D.C. I have gained so much knowledge in regards to the past, present, and future of our governmental relations and affairs–with LGBTQ+ context, my personal background, and beyond. I was able to implement a variety of perspectives and lenses in distinctive situations–even though I had no political experiences growing as a person throughout life. It was evident that everything at the end of the day is intertwined and society needs diversity of all sorts in order to function successfully, properly, and appropriately. My time here has made my passion for helping bring about positive changes to underrepresented and under resourced communities and society as a whole even stronger. I will miss Washington, D.C. and this amazing opportunity dearly, but an ending is just another beginning!