A few weeks ago, I attended a Camp Obama volunteer training in Minneapolis. People came for many reasons, but it was great to see everyone feel like they belonged. The campaign’s organizing slogan is “Respect. Empower. Include. Win.” and that was certainly on full display.
Early on, we agreed on rules for the day including respecting each other’s differences and being inclusive of diverse opinions and view points. For us, establishing common ground was the first step to moving forward as a group.
The campaign understands that people’s personal stories are powerful organizing tools. I am a 21-year-old child of Chinese immigrants and yet I quickly bonded with Fred, who raised a family in the South during Jim Crow. Growing up, I looked a bit different than most people who went to my school and always had the unsettling feeling that people made assumptions about me without knowing me. Though my and Fred's life experiences were very different, we quickly connected because both of us knew what it was like to feel excluded.
During camp, Seth, the general election director in Minnesota, shared his personal story. Seth was an organizer for the Obama campaign in 2008 and he saw firsthand how the grassroots won the campaign for Obama. He explained that we’ll do it again in 2012 and urged us not to take our volunteer potential for granted.
I showed up at Camp Obama that day because I felt a sense of urgency to join the effort to re-elect President Obama. Seeing so many energized volunteers was just the push I needed to commit to becoming an OFA core team member and regularly volunteering my time.
People constantly tout Obama's incredible story but as I reflect on the stories of the other volunteers at Camp Obama, I realize that every one of us has a story just as unique as President Obama. Our individual stories can serve to unite us and make us better organizers. United we can do great things. Won't you join me? Come to the next Camp Obama and let's see what we can do together!