I found out about this internship in the Spring of 2015 when Cleo spoke at a reception my church organizes for recent high school graduates. My brother Juan and I were volunteering at this reception. I immediately went home to research more about the internship. After reading about the experiences past interns had, about the doors that opened for them and what this internship stood for I knew I wanted that experience. I knew that I had to do everything in my power to be in D.C. that next summer. I submitted my application and then came the hard part…..waiting. Towards the end of March I received an invitation for a Skype Interview from Cleo. I have had a couple of interviews in my short life, for the different jobs that I have held, but nothing compared to how nervous I was making the appointment and preparing for this interview. I knew that I had to get this right. I wanted nothing else but to be part of this program, and experience this internship. I HAD to get this right. The first week of April, I had the Skype interview where I spoke with both Cleo and Carolyn. I remember I was so nervous I think they read it on my face, because one of the first things Cleo told me was to relax. How could I?! What Cleo told me at the end of interview left my without words “me dejo sin palabras.” I had got it!!! I was accepted and was going to D.C.!! I was so shocked, so incredulous that I just sat there and stared back at them with this blank face, all I kept saying was “Thank You”. I could not muster any words. I was at a total loss, almost as if my brain circuits had glitches. I kept thinking “Me? I was going to D.C. No way not Misael” Cleo told me to hold off announcing it all over Facebook and what not, but I had to call my mom. I called my dad, my brother, my roommate, my sister, Ms. Linda, I basically might as well had put it on Facebook. Fast forward to the day of the flight. My sisters, Saundra and Gabriela helped me pack and dropped me off at the airport. It was a rather quick send off, I took my bags down and exchanged hugs, kisses, and “I love you’s” Fifteen minutes later once I checked in my bags and claimed my tickets I call my sister because I forgot my camera in the car. She starts crying and getting me all sentimental, saying she had to leave quick, when she was dropping me off, otherwise she would have cried right then and there. She’s a crybaby and she managed to choke me up. I love my family.
Immediately after our conversation I went to board my flight. The flying part was exhausting. I left Orlando, arrived in Atlanta and everything was smooth. Our flight was scheduled to leave Atlanta at 4:10 PM. Well that didn’t happen, I say “our” because it was there in Atlanta that I met a fellow intern: Luis Aguilar. Our flight got delayed two hours so I was stuck in this huge airport next to a stranger who I would be sharing the next two months of my life with. We got some food and got to know each other a little more. Luis would be sharing the same host family as I, Jim and Julie Steele, God bless them. Luis and I hit it off pretty well; I had this feeling that we would be good friends. We talked a little bit about where we were from and a little bit of our story. While we were waiting we also took a picture together.(I’m on the right)
The excitement and nerves kept coming and going in that long wait. I thought about when I moved out of my house to go study at UCF in Orlando. That was a huge step for me. I tried to compare the feelings, but this was different. At one point I thought that maybe this wasn’t for me and I should stay home, where it is SAFE. But then I snapped out of it and instead I thought about all the hard work that has been put in to get to this position. I thought about all the sacrifices my family and I have made on the road of my life, and they all led to this point. This was the now and this was my next move. There has been so many thoughts running through my head. I thought about Jim and Julie and how they opened up their home to us, I thought about my parents and how I was going to make them proud. I also thought about whether or not the people up here in D.C. would accept me, and if we would get along.
Once we landed in D.C. Janna and Carolyn picked us up. Right away they started joking on Luis and I because SUPPOSEDLY we packed way too much stuff! Funny! They are cool, and we had some good laughs on the way to Cleo’s house, which is where we went to straight from the airport. Their playful demeanor helped ease some of my nerves. As soon as we got to Cleo’s house, which is in Virginia, Cleo came outside to greet us with a huge warm smile and a big hug. He knows how to make you feel welcome. He also mentioned again that I should cut my hair.( I don’t know if he’s serious or not) There at Cleo’s house they had what seemed like a rather large welcoming party, of course with our flight delay, Luis and I were very late. So we had a quick exchange of greetings and introductions and laid out the plan for tomorrow. That welcoming party was well needed; even though it was quick it really helped reassure me that I am where I need to be. My name is Misael Rangel and this is only one of many beginnings.