Ward 1 Volunteer Team with Summer Organizer Valentina P (From L to R: Doug F, Mitch S, John Z, Valentina P, Linda Z, and Mary Jean C)
Weaving through the congested streets of Washington, D.C. during the city’s 4th of July parade with a clipboard in one hand and a stack of I’M IN cards in the other, Valentina P. served as the campaign’s ambassador and translator. Switching between English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese with ease, the fiery, multi-lingual summer organizer came to the aide of her fellow organizers whenever they encountered a foreign language speaker.
“Hola! Contamos con tu apoyo para el Presidente Obama en el 2012?” Valentina exclaimed to a family from El Salvador that had recently moved to the city. After a few minutes of conversation and posing for pictures with the family, Valentina collected I’M IN cards and shouted “Si, se puede!” as she moved down the street to help translate for another couple who were interested in helping President Obama’s 2012 campaign.
Spanish speakers such as Valentina are invaluable to our work. “To be able to go out there and talk to [people] in their native language, they just feel more comfortable,” Valentina said. “They open up to you.”
A recent graduate of George Washington University, Valentina cut her teeth advocating for immigration reform during high school, starting SEEN (Students for Equal Education Network), a group devoted to lobbying for the DREAM Act. Her passion for immigration issues stems from her own struggles. At the age of 13, after a family trip to Venezuela, her mother was denied a visa to re-enter the United States. The young Valentina was forced to decide between staying in Venezuela with her mother or returning to the States to live with her aunt.
Valentina returned without her mother. It would be more than a year before they were reunited. “It was an agonizing year,” Valentina laments. “People think immigration reform is just an 'immigrant' problem – but it affects thousands of children who are citizens as well."
Valentina hopes to work with her personal hero—Obama for America Political Director Katherine Archuleta—in the future. Valentina admires Archuleta for empowering young Latinas and bringing them into the political process. “I think that Latinos are just starting to know the power of government and are really getting involved,” Valentina contends. “So to have initiatives that not only [reach out to] Latinos but also Latino women, I think that is very important.”
Meet Valentina and the other Summer Organizers at one of our Aug 3rd house parties across the District as we celebrate President Obama’s birthday. Find an event and RSVP here and invite your friends, colleagues, and family!