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My #WhatWeAreMadeOf D.C. Experience

By Anais Hernandez Feb. 6, 2019

The What We Are Made Of mosaic artwork project was created to uplift student voices. I had the opportunity to be a part of this project and show the deepest pieces of who I am, my personality, my hobbies and challenges I’ve faced over time. 

When I was told by my Communities In Schools coordinator, Ms. Luna, that I would be traveling to Washington, D.C. for the unveiling of my mosaic art piece, I couldn't believe it! I was so excited to travel somewhere I had never been before. When I arrived at D.C. I first felt out of my comfort zone; I was far away from Los Angeles, on a different coast, with different people. Having my mom and mentor there with me gave me the strength I needed to face all these new experiences.  

In this trip I got to experience a whole lot of amazing things with what I call my “CIS Family.” Meeting the people behind this project was amazing, there was an immediate connection, it felt like I’d known these people forever, and they made me feel welcome; it was exactly what I needed to face the emotions of seeing my portrait for the first time and being interviewed about my experience. 

I also had the chance to meet the other six students that were chosen for this project; we clicked automatically in such a short amount of time, creating a nice bond during our late-night talks at the hotel. I was really inspired by their powerful stories, how they overcame their challenges, and how they are now amazing leaders in their communities. It was nice meeting new people that I can relate to: we’ve all experienced hardships at a young age, but we have all transformed our negative experiences into something positive. 

The big day, the day of the launch celebration, arrived quickly, and my artwork was presented to a room of over one-hundred people. I was proud to be open about sharing my story through a mosaic art piece. I used to struggle with my body image, low self-esteem and confidence before meeting my CIS site coordinator, who has supported me emotionally and academically. Despite those early challenges, I am more confident than ever today! I even run my own beauty, fashion and lifestyle blog, and I created a makeup club at my high school where we talk all about beauty and how to love ourselves unconditionally. 

With my story, I wanted to bring awareness to how my generation is facing complex challenges, but that we’re overcoming them. I got to see all the hard work Communities In Schools does to help students like me become successful in the future. Seeing their passion and dedication made me feel even more grateful about having my CIS mentor, Ms. Luna, at my school. I know I can always count on her if I ever need anything. Having this organization in my community has helped me stay on track academically and be in a better place emotionally and mentally. 

Overall, my trip to Washington, D.C. is one to remember! I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to create these memorable experiences and be a part of a project I truly believe in. I’m also thankful for the artist and for my fellow students who bravely spoke about their experiences. We are all made of resilience, dreams, opportunities, love, courage, confidence and optimism but, above all, we are leaders committed to telling our stories so that other young people will be inspired to use their voices, too.  

Explore my interactive portrait and learn more about my story by visiting whatwearemadeof.us

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