I peered over the edge of my bunk bed at 6:45 a.m to find that I’m the last one in my room to wake up. The D.C. sun began to shine through the window. In no time, I was showered and dressed in business casual attire; ready for the day’s events. Everyone else was also dressed to kill, and I became excited about participating in my first press conference as a Dream Rider. We checked out of the hostel together and waited for Dong Yoon to drive us to the Capitol Hill at the House Triangle.
The conference began promptly at 9:30, and DJ introduced us to the press. The cameras were rolling and other bystanders took our photographs as we stood tall with our Dream Riders posters and banner. We were blessed with very encouraging words from U.S. Representatives Judy Chu and Mike Honda as they publicly announced their support for immigration reform that keeps families together and includes a pathway to citizenship! These were the first two political figures that I met in person who supports immigration reform. I was so proud of Kevin and Simon because they did an amazing job of telling their personal stories. Also at the conference was a DREAMer named Yves from APALA, with such a heartwarming story in support of immigration reform – it was such a pleasure to have met you, dude. =)
Overall, the press conference was a success. After it was over, we were quickly escorted out of the area because President Obama was arriving to the Capitol Building. No matter, it was time to begin our 6 hour drive to Charlotte, anyways.
We pit-stopped at a McDonalds for brunch, then endured many hours of driving through on and off rainstorms. The long car rides are tiring, but the witty back and forths between the Dream Riders in the van are making the road trip worthwhile.
In Charlotte, we arrived at the Asian Library where we were greeted with open arms by SEAC and U4tD. I was so grateful for the Vietnamese cuisine that they offered! (I haven’t had rice in days.) Anna and I were the ones to share our stories this time as we took our spots on the panel and the conference began. We discussed immigration reform and provided a legislative updatel. Many stories were shared amongst us and the community members. They were so inspirational and made me feel so lucky to be a Dream Rider. It was especially touching to conclude the conference and be presented with colorful framed art pieces by the youth members of SEAC and U4tD. It was so unexpected, but much appreciated. I hope I can continue my experience on the van tour and make these youth proud.
We ended our day at the beautiful home of Cat Bao Le and Tin Thanh Nguyen. We will sleep tonight and make sure we are well rested for tomorrow’s legislative visit at the office of Representative McIntyre.
Dream Rider: Brandon Licuanan, representing KRCC and FYSH