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Waking up from dozing on the flight from Dallas to Seattle, I decided to pull up the window to look and see if anything would be recognizable. Towering above the city was the famous Seattle Space Needle as I saw the cityscape sprawling out thousands of feet below. I immediately thought this city was not going to be anything like I had ever experienced before, and so far in my trip I have realized just how right I was.
Although it has only been just over a week since we arrived to the West Coast, my 20 years of life in North Carolina did little to prepare me for this new, enormous city bustling with energy and life. Truthfully, the only other place that I have ever called home for an extended period of time is Germany, where I have visited on two separate occasions that have totaled nearly two months of time of residence. Compared to Raleigh, my hometown, the vast city of Seattle feels just as foreign as Germany did originally to me years ago. To clarify, I’m happy to still be somewhat uncomfortable with living in this city. If I weren’t, this new experience would not be nearly as exciting as it has been. The number of things I have seen, experienced, and emotions felt have made me realize just how varying the customs and culture can be in a single country.
Very uncustomary in many parts of North Carolina is the acceptance of gay rights and marriage. Despite my vote, Amendment One just passed in my home state 61-39. Here in Seattle, flags, wristbands, socks, suspenders, and any other article imaginable can easily be found in rainbow form. Sadly, seeing this is a city still within my country made me pity that aspect of my state.
Working for the Washington Bus, the absolute best place to work, has given me even more satisfaction with social issues. At the Washington Bus, I have the privilege of working with 7 incredible staff members and 20 Bus Fellows that are all dedicated to getting the word out about the power of the youth in Washington voting and getting involved within the political spectrum. Even after just four days of work, I have learned more about the ins and outs of nonprofit work than I have previously learned in my entire life. In addition, the political process of the senate, the house, the governor’s race, and so much more are becoming clearer every day.
Just this Sunday, I marched in the Seattle Pride Parade with the Bus, the staff, and the fellows, as well as other DukeEngagers that answered the call of speaking out. This is one of hundreds of events that the Bus participates in annually, and it was certainly one of the largest. Over 100,00 caring people came out to show their support for gay marriage, and I felt honored to be marching alongside the Bus cheering at the lined streets of downtown Seattle. A recent poll that shows Referendum 74 at 52-41, it looks at though gay marriage will be legal in the state of Washington. To ensure this result on November 6th, the Bus has decided to have weekly Phone Banks to call thousands and thousands of people around the state to try and the get the word out about the importance of voting. Working to support these phone banks has honestly made me feel better about the dark fate of my home state at this time. But at the same time, all this experience working with voters has given me newfound motivation to maybe try and bring change to North Carolina when I return.