Blog: Intern Introspective #3

Capitol rooftoop

No matter how many times I visit Capitol Hill, there is always a larger-than-life sensation I get whenever I see the buildings looming over me. I think it’s the knowledge that these people who know next to nothing about my life experience have my livelihood in their hands. The immense power held by this small group of legislators feels so close yet so far. Every opportunity to speak to congressional staff feels like being given the smallest taste of influence before it’s quickly snatched away from you again once you leave. I always wonder if the people who work on Capitol Hill feel any different, or if everyone has experienced this frustration.

Stepping onto Capitol Hill as a queer woman of color who is advocating for a small community of individuals with rare diseases is such an intimidating yet simultaneously empowering experience. Walking the halls, you will be hard-pressed to find someone who looks like me – and not seeing yourself represented in such powerful positions can really feel like a blow to your confidence and your ability to speak up. But in another way, it is also incredibly fulfilling to make your voice heard, and to know that your voice is representing many other people who aren’t so lucky as to have this opportunity to share our stories. You realize that each time you share your story, there is impact. And impact doesn’t always mean that huge, sweeping changes occur at the touch of a magic wand- we all know how the American government works, slow and steady at a pace that is meant to protect us from volatility.

No, to me, impact means that someone heard me out, that someone made space in their busy schedule to acknowledge the struggles my community faces, that someone took note of those concerns and understood them. Impact is so much more than dramatic actions- sometimes, I find the biggest wins within the smallest moments.

Every Hill Day confirms to me that I belong in a space where I can not only make my own voice heard, but also where I can uplift the voices of other minority groups that are chronically underrepresented or altogether dismissed. If there is one thing I have learned, it is that every experience, every story, matters. Telling that story and sharing its impact and relevance to real-life people is a right, not a privilege. And it is a right I have every intention of continuing to exercise, in the hopes that others will find that power within themselves, too.

Karina Piu, 2023 Summer Intern