Placed at SEIU 721 for Dream Summer 2020.
Christine Nabung was born in the Philippines. When she was five years of age, her family immigrated to Los Angeles, California. While growing up in the United States, Christine knew that she was an undocumented immigrant, but it wasn’t until high school that she felt the weight of her immigration status. As Christine navigated the college application process, she experienced various barriers and obstacles due to her immigration status. It was also during this critical time, in her youth, that her father was deported. Christine’s family was torn apart and life would never be the same for them.
Despite these unjust and traumatic events, Christine is determined to pursue higher education. In December of 2017, she was chosen as a Posse scholar to attend Middlebury College in rural Vermont. Christine is currently working towards a B.A. in Environmental Justice and a minor in Education Studies. She is also heavily involved on campus by providing support to first-generation students and hosting monthly open mics.
Christine’s experiences sparked her passion for helping others and her desire to prioritize social equity in the work she engages with. She believes that there are multiple ways to solve social justice issues and enjoys creative problem solving. Her favorite creative problem-solving method is storytelling because she believes personal anecdotes are powerful, inspire change, and empower underrepresented communities.
We asked Christine: What was your experience with the Dream Summer fellowship like?
“Through the Dream Summer fellowship, I had the opportunity to work with SEIU 721. My first project at SEIU 721 was to help drivers, in the gig economy, fight for their rights. In collaboration with the Mobile Workers Alliance (MWA), SEIU 721 led a campaign that challenged the gig economy by demanding for the recognition of workers’ rights and the improvement of working conditions for drivers.
I, along with a team of 9 people, made daily calls to drivers who work for companies like Lyft, Uber, and Instacart. We listened to their experiences, provided them with information, and mobilized them for major actions and events. From June 25th to the 26th, I attended MWA’s conference, a global meeting where drivers from all over the world discussed the rights of gig workers and shared resources. At the conference, I learned about the different processes workers go through to create a union and how to continue making progress through the COVID-19 pandemic.
On July 20th, SEIU 721 joined a national one-day strike led by janitors, nurses, homecare workers, and thousands of others fighting for racial and worker justice. The event was a huge success with over 700 cars filling the streets of Los Angeles in a caravan for justice. Shortly after on July 23rd, I attended a virtual hearing joined by Los Angeles County Board Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and hundreds of essential workers. At the hearing, people shared their stories and talked about what it’s like to be an essential worker during the current health crisis. I was moved by the stories and frustrated to hear that people endure harsh working conditions to survive. Folks in the discussion emphasized that workers who are essential are not expendable.”
We asked Christine: How has the Dream Summer fellowship helped you grow?
“Working with SEIU 721 has taught me so many valuable lessons. First, it has reinforced for me the intersectionality of social justice issues and how a crisis, like the pandemic, only amplifies the already existing injustices within our communities. I also learned that organizing is necessary to challenge power and that power can be fairly redistributed by encouraging collaboration and partnership. The fellowship also made me reflect on our current systems and how maybe it is not about fixing these systems, but rather recreating them to achieve a truly equitable and just society.
This experience also taught me the importance of communication. A single conversation can catalyze change whether it be through learning about another’s experience, brainstorming next steps, discussing campaign plans, or simply reminding someone about an event. Building genuine and lasting connections is the foundation of a successful movement. Overall, I am extremely grateful that through this fellowship I had the opportunity to work with SEIU 721. At SEIU 721, I found a community that helped me find confidence in myself and strengthened my passion towards supporting my community.”
Learn more about Dream Summer here.