I learned more from my political campaign internship than my tutor


Daniel Kong

Interns and Campaign Advisers of David Ryu’s re-election campaign met via Zoom on October 4, 2020, to discuss future campaign plans.

Daniel Kong, Business Manager

I was depressed for a week.

It wasn’t because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the fact that I still can’t take an SAT exam.

It was because of the email that I read from my personal email inbox:

“Emailing you today with sad news. Unfortunately, it does not look like David Ryu won his re-election campaign [for Los Angeles City Council, District 4]. We, along with many of you, are pretty devastated!” 

“It sucks to see an incredibly qualified candidate who has proven himself to be the leader we need in these times lose. It sucks even more to have put in sooo many hours as you all did to help this guy who many of you never even met in real life.”

“If this was your first campaign experience, I hope a loss did not turn you off to a future in campaigns or politics. … Best, Madelynn Taras, community engagement deputy.”

Yes, this was my first foray into helping out with a political campaign. 

And although it was my father who originally forwarded me the email opportunity to work with Ryu’s re-election campaign, I found it ironic that my parents later told me I could’ve done something more useful with my summer like preparing for my upcoming 2020-2021  Advanced Placement [AP] classes.

But what if Ryu had won his re-election campaign? Would that still have been a waste of my summer, Mom and Dad?

Of course as a dutiful Asian son, I dared not challenge them with such questions. Instead, I shared with them that I’m still interested in politics.

My current goal is to educate myself more about it until I choose a political party to identify with.

I plan for my next internship to be for a politician with different policies from Ryu because I strongly believe that varying experiences can be invaluable in terms of learning. 

Ryu focused heavily on community involvement such as the homeless issue. However, because of my interest specifically in global warming and public education, I want to work with a government official or someone seeking office who also prioritizes those issues.

Ryu’s defeat by Nithya Raman has taken a heavy toll on me. I regretted not making more phone calls whenever I had the time.

But now that it’s been a couple of weeks, I look back and reminisce on the four-hour phone banking sessions I had with my friends and the late nights staying up until midnight planning advertisements to get voters’ interest. I still wouldn’t have given that up to spend two hours twice a week with an AP Biology and U.S. History tutor.