Greeting from where the Corn Grows Tall

by Leslie Martes '02

Yes, I am in Iowa. How could this be, you might ask-a girl from San Diego, California, who at Scripps bemoaned the smell of the cows of Chino? The explanation is simple: I am working on Dick Gephardt’s campaign for the first-in the-nation presidential caucus on January 19, 2004. I cannot imagine any other job that involves simply getting to know people and talking about the issues that they care about. The opportunities to visit farms that have been in people’s famlies for generations and to relax on a porch swing all with the goal of my candidate winning the caucus-are previously unimaginable gifts.

I never thought that just one year out of Scripps I would have such experiences.

Just last summer while working for Linda Sanchez, the now-congresswoman from thc 39th district in California, I learncd about how dedicatcd and hardworking candidates must be to win. It takes a strong person to run because every aspect of one’s life is questioned, and the questioning is often more rigorous for women.The women candidates that I have worked with have all shown amazing grace and strength.

Then last fall. I was working in New Hampshire for Votersfor Choice, thanks to Scrippt alumna Amy Drayer ’00. I was helping to elect pro-choice candidates in order to protect a woman’s right to choose. It was wonderful to work on an issue that I cared so much about while at Scripps. Before Scripps, I had never thought about speaking up or fighting for my personal causes and beliefs. Now, with more confidence, I am comfortable in my own knowledge about the issues I am passionate about. And, I am using organizational skills I learned at Scripps for organizing on a larger scale.

While in New Hampshire, I went to fund-raising dinners, hung out in union halls, ran phone banks, and learned a lot about how the issue of choice is viewed in different states. I am learning that even though we are all one country, each state or place that I go looks at issues in individual ways. I am excited about the possibilities of where I might end up next. I keep my fingers crossed that it is Hawaii.

A few weeks ago, I inadvertently met a current Pomona student. It was great to talk about professors and campus events. Attending a Claremont Collcge is a common bond that no one else can fully understand (though I have taught some of my co-workers the word “consortium”). I am beginning to understand how the same misconceptions that I had about Iowa are similar to what others have about California. I have been trying to explain about how wonderful In-N-Out burgers are. For all my vegetarian friends, I still long for the grilled chccse “animal style.” I miss other things, like my family and friends and the lack of humidity on the West Coast, but I know that this experience, will shape my future. I have seen my first flashflood and and learning to conquer my fear of tornados. I survived my first horsefly bite with little complaint. I have also tasted my very first pork burger and can’t wait for thc Iowa State Fair.

If anyone is planning an exciting trip to Iowa in the future, please let me know. I have some envelopes that need to be stuffed and yard signs to be put up.