Volunteering on the floor at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado, I was filled with a sense of hope and excitement inspired by the endless amounts of speakers, political figures, celebrities and the masses of people young and old, black and white and even Democrat and Republican all gathering in support of Barack Obama's bid for the presidency. It was this hope and excitement that led me to take the semester off from school to pursue a job on Obama's Presidential campaign.
Stationed in Appleton, Wisconsin I worked as a Youth Vote Coordinator and Deputy Field Organizer. Most of my attention was geared towards the local college, Lawrence University (the other Lawrence) where I recruited volunteers from the student body, registering them to vote and motivating them to be involved in the campaign. I organized events for the campus which featured Senator Russ Feingold (D WI), Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle, the local Congressman Steve Kagen and the Democratic challenger for the local House of Reps seat, Penny Bernard Schaber.
Campaign life was rigorous. The typical work day started at 8am and the office would normally close around 11:30pm. Eating habits were poor, exercise was nonexistent, sleep was at a minimum and leisure was something unheard of. But in the end our work paid off big. In the Fox Cities section of Wisconsin, a historically conservative district and once considered one of the countries toughest battleground areas, the voters overwhelmingly turned out for our candidates. In what, I believe, signals a great change in our country, our "conservative" district voted for a black man, a Jew and a female.
Throughout my journey I took along my handheld camera. From the backstage of the Democratic Convention to our campaign office in Wisconsin I was able to record the workings of the campaign and the excitement leading up to Election Day. From this footage I compiled my first documentary. I learned the efficiency of film in communicating messages especially to our younger generation. Thus, I aimed my documentary towards my generation as a source of motivation for further civic engagement and as visual evidence of how the democratic process can be effective. Obama's all-inclusive campaign style emphasized youth involvement which made the vision of my film possible and led me to title the film "My Generation."
My interest in politics has been long lasting and my desire to make social change has been further fueled by my experiences with the Obama campaign. I wish to communicate with my peers my experiences had and lessons learned and hope that my story resonates as proof that our voice does count and that our generation can make a difference. With the new leader of our country in office, the tools are in our hands. All we have to do is use them.