by J.R. Gonzalez
It’s 9:00 AM in Washington, DC. The temperature begins to rise rapidly, typical of any humid summer morning in the district. Seven high school students have been awake since 6:00 AM. They made their way into the city from as far as Baltimore, Maryland and are anxiously waiting for the doors of the Pennsylvania Avenue PNC Bank to open. Behind them: the north portico side of the White House. As the bank opens, they are welcomed into a historic board room and the group sits and waits.
What brings a group of 15 to 20 year old Baltimore-Washington area students together on a summer morning while their peers are still sleeping and hoping to hit the pool? NHPO.
When recent University of Maryland graduate and NHPO member Carolina Peña approached some of the high school students she mentored about the idea of forming a NHPO Youth Chapter, Dalia Garcia, 15, and Estefany Chalas, 17, loved the opportunity and ran with it. Enthused, they spread the word to other students they had met during the 2010 Hispanic Youth Symposium, a week-long college empowerment camp tailored to Latinos, and within a week the students were ready to convene and learn more about NHPO.
J.R. Gonzales, NHPO National President, did not hesitate to assist Ms. Peña and dedicated many hours to getting to know the students while touring the Library of Congress, the Capitol, the National Press Club, the Newseum and the White House. During one occasion, Mr. Gonzales arranged for the burgeoning chapter to have its first Board Training at the historic branch of PNC Bank (formally headquarters of Riggs Bank) directly across the street from the Department of Treasury and the White House. In the course of one morning the students learned how to run a meeting through an agenda and the finer points of Robert’s Rules of Order.
Elated, the students returned home to build momentum and share their experiences and photos on a newly created NHPO DC Youth Chapter group page on Facebook. Estefany Chalas, a Generacion Latina guest and co-producer, posted on the Chapter group page on Facebook: “I just wanted to share how excited I am to be a part of this new beginning. I know that each and every one of you have sooooo much to offer the world. I believe we could DO ANYTHING IF WE WORK TOGETHER.”
Missael Garcia, 20, posted: “Last Wednesday was great because we had the honor to meet a great person, J.R Gonzales. I enjoyed having him around because we gained some of his knowledge. It was really interesting to know how the United States became the great country it is now. When we sat down to discuss about creating NHPO I felt like those 13 men who sat down and decided to make one country: the United States of America. I have hope that we will grow just like America, I’m really looking forward to this.”
As school doors open and the students go back to class, they look forward to meeting every month and incorporating as an official NHPO chapter in the coming weeks. Stay tuned and follow them on Facebook.
Article published via iHispano: http://www.ihispano.com/forum/nhpo-starts-a-dc-youth-chapter