Last December, I traveled to Baltimore, Maryland, for COSHCON. While the weather was dreary and grim, the energy I felt at the conference was full of love, energy, and solidarity among the attendees. COSHCON is a yearly conference hosted by the National Council for Occupational Health and Safety. Its purpose is to create a space where academics, organizations, and, most importantly, workers can meet, speak, and act on the injustices they face in the workplace. Last year, the theme revolved around Workers' Health and Safety.
As I journeyed on the trip alone, a group of hardworking Latina women adopted me (or so they said). All 3 of them belonged to Border Workers United and were involved in factories and cleaning industries. During my time at the conference, I had the pleasure of attending workshops on topics such as deferred action, first aid, and sexual harassment. Many of these workshops allowed individuals to share their personal stories. I was very grateful to be in a place that allowed vulnerability. I gained inspiration from their experiences of standing up against their employers. Being at the conference and surrounded by these amazing women had me thinking about my mother and her struggles within farmwork and her current job at a fabrication plant. In the future, if the opportunity were to arise, I would love to fund my mother to attend the conference, helping her feel seen through the various organizations that were present and ready to support individuals like her.
As I continue exploring endless career tracks in public policy, I hope never to forget the stories of these women, remembering to listen to people's experiences and take action against injustice.
On the plane ride home, I continued to reflect on how I could translate my renewed inspiration for social justice work into my own hometown. At the moment, I do not have a solidified plan, but at the very least, I was able to share my experience with my global health class the following day in school. When the professor asked what kind of health we were interested in, you can probably guess what my answer was.