Love at second sight

28 Nov

I was nine the first time I stepped foot in New York City. Fourth-grade school trip, actually. I can’t recall all of what I did or even how it went, but I do remember thinking: too cold, a bit dirty, and just a bit crowded. But then again, I was young, naïve, and absolutely certain that New York and I would never cross paths again. You see, I was a child of sunny and suburban South Florida and that’s all I’d ever really known. So now, 15 years later, it’s fitting and rather ironic that I would find myself making a grand return to the city that I once swore off. Choosing Public Allies, choosing New York of all places, ended up not necessarily being a hard choice, but one that arrived at particular time in my life where it felt just right.

When I was in college, it took me a long time to figure out what the word “passion” really meant. As I understood it, passion is defined as a “powerful feeling – a kind of yearning, or zest for something.” I remember as a freshman being told that it’s important to start to think about the very things that drive us, move us (and hopefully this in turn would become a declared major at the same time). So I went on a search and tried your garden variety of different classes and clubs. But it took until the end of my sophomore year for me to start to realize what I needed most.

It was 2008, the middle of an election year. I remember it fondly because it was when I had made my second-to-last major switch, moved off-campus on my own, and started to have one of those mid-college life crises. It was during that summer that I decided I needed to pay more attention to the world around me. I started asking a lot more questions. I started to challenge my thoughts and long-standing beliefs. I began tracking the candidates more closely — their issues, their positions. I started keeping an eye on the values that mattered to me personally: equality, acceptance, inclusion. That’s when it hit me.

I needed to get my hands dirty.  I needed to care more. I needed to do more. I started getting involved and invested in the dialogue and the discussion. I started to educate myself on advocacy work, LGBT rights, and social justice issues. I could no longer just be an observer of the political process, I wanted to be a part of it. I joined our student LGBT organization and began to surround myself with people who shared a similar interest in working to build more inclusive spaces. And after some three lovely years of doing just that, and after meeting some of the best friends of my life, I craved more. I needed to find a way of taking what I’ve done and bringing it to the next level.

That’s how I came to Public Allies. That’s why I chose New York. I knew that the combination of this program and this city would be the best place for me. To find opportunities, embrace new challenges, and hopefully prove my nine-year-old self wrong at the same time. We’ll see how it goes!


One Response to “Love at second sight”

  1. imdelgado November 29, 2011 at 2:59 pm #

    Major kudos to you Adrian, for recognizing that you “needed to get your hands dirty.” It’s nice to see I have another LGBTQ rights- minded person on the team too!

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