How Water Helped Me Grow – Generation Justice

Melissa and I are standing in KOB’s studio, and there’s footage rolling of Nuestro Rio’s Youth Leadership Group in a raft, splashing and speeding down the Colorado River. There’s waves propelling them forward, and waves sloshing back onto their raft, and although drenched, they’re still smiling. They are learning through adventure, and I am too. My experience diving into water issues, Nuestro Rio, and the Western Governors’ Association have helped me to grow in big ways, in a small period of time.

From the dry, warm car ride up to the WGA Drought Forum, to a rainy day broadcasting radio in our studio, to the parking lot of KOB on a beautiful morning, I’ve felt myself change. I’ve been challenged, and challenged myself, in multiple ways. From doing interviews in Santa Fe to being interviewed by Nicole Brady, there could be a list of things to become anxious about but I simply took that energy and channeled it towards excitement and confidence. I’ve been pushed out of my comfort zone, but I’m grateful for it. I know that I have something to stand for. I feel more rooted in myself and in our land.

GJ members Edgar Cruz and Maya Quiñones talk with Española Councilwoman Michelle Martinez during our live “Water is Life” radio program.

At the WGA Drought Forum in January, I was still settling into being comfortable conducting interviews throughout that day, I felt stronger and more inspired. This was my turning point in how I saw myself, and how I thought about interviews. As I did these interviews, I felt connected to the subject matter and the people that I was speaking with. I realized how my voice as a journalist was valuable. The more passion I put in, the more passion I got back. This feeling continued even as I edited the interviews and worked on creating a narrative for our radio program. Being in the studio as the program aired, on a rainy evening, I felt so accomplished and happy to have been a part of this story.

Robert Apodaca, Christina Rodriguez, and Mayor Javier Gonzalez on KOB’s “Eye on NM” with host, Nicole Brady.

Then, yet another opportunity arose and suddenly I was prepping for an interview on TV with Nuestro Rio members and Nicole Brady. I practiced and practiced. I had never been on TV before. It’s startling enough to hear your voice, recorded, let alone to watch yourself speak. Recording at KOB was a whirlwind. The lights were bright, my heart was racing, but I just kept breathing and soaked in the moment. I’ve grown up watching Nicole Brady on television so it was surreal to meet her, sit across from her, and have a conversation.

It went by even faster than I could imagine. From being conscious about their camera shots to thinking about how my hands are moving. Television is truly a whole new level of media-making for me. I’m so comfortable, and happy, to be behind the camera, and even to be asking the questions, so to be on the other side of it is so strangely new to me. All of this has helped me to solidify my voice, whether it’s how I speak, what words I choose, or the strength in what I am saying. Being able to embrace my voice, and myself, is strength.

As someone who’s lived in the desert for as long as I’ve been alive, I love that I have been able to grow alongside it, while fighting to protect it. As I learn more about the sacredness of water, I feel responsible to share it. Agua es vida.

From left to right: Manuel Chavez, Nuestro Rio Youth Leader; Robert Apodaca, NM Coordinator for Nuestro Rio; Nicole Brady, KOB Anchor; Greg Webb, Consultant with Nuestro Rio; Christina Rodriguez, GJ Fellow; Rep. David Gallegos, Regional Water Caucus Member; Mayor Javier Gonzalez, Regional Water Caucus Member.