This is Ours – Leanne Ho

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

At three in the morning, I sat cross-legged on the polished marble steps of the Lincoln Memorial, mozzarella sticks in my lap, and looked out across the water. Distant police sirens interrupted the chirped conversations of birds and the murmured discussions of my fellow Victory Congressional Interns. Along the horizon, beyond the clean lines of the Washington Monument, the Capitol Rotunda carried the weight of the dark sky with all the majesty of a Roman cathedral. The view looked like it belonged on a postcard, but here it was, right in front of me. I still couldn’t believe that I was spending the summer in DC.

One of my favorite documentaries at the moment is Knock Down the House, which follows four women who challenge powerful incumbents in Congress. In one of its most touching scenes, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recounts a childhood memory: her father brought her to DC, and in the midst of these beautiful monuments, surrounded by centuries of history, he told her, “You know, this all belongs to us. This is our government. It belongs to us. So, all of this stuff is yours.”

I’ve been thinking about that a lot this week. To be completely honest, I didn’t expect to find myself on the Hill this summer, much less interning with Senator Dianne Feinstein. I’m not a political science major. I’ve never volunteered on a campaign. I want to go to medical school, not law school. But I’ve always had an interest in government, from rainy days singing along to Schoolhouse Rock to late nights cramming AP US History. As a future physician and a concerned advocate for immigrants, people of color, and the LGBTQ community, I can’t ignore the impact of legislation on health and well-being. From funding HIV research to implementing the Affordable Care Act, the US government is and always has been a key player in public health.

I applied for the Victory Congressional Internship because I wanted a better understanding of policy-making. Whether I work with patients or with constituents, I wanted to experience the inner workings of government, not only for my career and educational development, but also for my personal growth as an informed citizen.

This all belongs to us. This is our government. And I’m planning to make the most of it.