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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Alondra Bobadilla’s trajectory from Poet Laureate to law

Alondra Bobadilla poses for a picture. Photo submitted by Alondra Bobadilla.

Throughout life, people find many passions. Whether creative or professional, recreational or ambitious, these passions can come and go, or remain throughout the course of one’s life. However, for many, it can be difficult to bridge the gap between very different interests, to combine them. Boston Youth Poet Laureate from 2020 to 2022, and third-year student in international relations, Alondra Bobadilla, sat down to talk about how she has managed her passions and naturally intertwined them.

For Bobadilla, her creative passion is performance and poetry, whereas the field that moves her is law.

Her journey began as a freshman at Fenway High School, where she spent her days grabbing onto poems as they inspired her and recording them on paper. These daily inspirations developed her expertise around language and rhythm, while at the same time, exploring her emotions and frustrations about many topics.

In 2018, her sophomore year of high school, Bobadilla discovered her interest in international relations after participating in Model G20. This is a simulation event that replicates the annual G20 Leaders Summit. During the real summit, leaders around the globe meet to make treaties regarding current global macroeconomic issues, developing agreements for health, energy and the environment. Her first Model G20 experience lasted a week and took place in Beijing, China. After exploring the city, she took on the role as Germany’s head of state and negotiated treaties with students from around the world.

During Model G20, she learned proper public speaking techniques that she continues implementing today. Bobadilla shared that to be an effective public speaker, it is best to “stand with your feet a little bit apart, really planted into the ground and trying not to rock back and forth and not having your hands up or fidgeting. [Instead], having them down, more relaxed. Also, speaking slower than you think that you need to.”

In 2019, Model G20 took place again, this time at the Harvard campus. It was scheduled to return to Beijing, China for 2020, but by the time they started planning the event, China had already shut down due to COVID-19.

At the beginning of 2019, the City of Boston had announced the development of the Poet Laureate program and began to look for the first Youth Poet Laureate. “By the time that I assumed that I was going to China, I had already been confirmed in the position,” Bobadilla explained.

The Poet Laureate program uplifts poetry by creating events in the city around the art form and allowing the poet to perform for various organizations, from non-profits to the Boston Celtics.

“I thought it was interesting because it was about poetry, but it also was about engaging with the city through poetry,” said Bobadilla.

For the application, aspiring poets were required to write a poem about Boston, which they would later be required to perform in City Hall during the two rounds of the contest. Bobadilla’s poem, titled “617,” showed her love for and familiarity with the city. The lines “my city, where my heart will always live and breathe / from the Charles to Fenway Park, I know I’m home when I see the Citgo / sign up and bright as night, red against white” warmed the hearts of every audience she performed for.

Writing about Boston was an opportunity to bring forth her perspective as a long-time citizen of the city.

Bobadilla’s lines, “College students are flooding in by chunks from everywhere but here,” “How we got money to build luxury apartments for people who don’t know Boston, don’t love Boston like we do, but they can barely clean up the projects for Bostonians” and “I am not questioning anybody’s authority but I’m questioning what we are doing with what we say that we got” speaks to how the city’s decisions benefit the monumental inhabitants of those with money, instead of all the people who truly call Boston home.

Her piece resonated heavily with the panel of city employees. Reflecting on the day she first read the poem to them in Boston City Hall, Bobadilla noted, “I think they resonated with it because I was echoing some of the things they were also feeling, sentiments and experiences they also had.”

The expertise she developed in her first few years of high school proved particularly fruitful when, in the role of Youth Poet Laureate, she was asked to write and perform continuously under the guidance of Boston Poet Laureate Porsha Olayiwola.

Bobadilla noted that it is key to “eradicate the idea that you cannot do more than one thing.”

Instead, meeting and connecting with people in a variety of fields opens opportunities for collaboration across fields. “If you are only talking to lawyers, or only talking to pre-med, you are already closing the doors, because you are already talking to people with one perspective,” explained Bobadilla.

She expanded on this idea: “This simultaneously interrogates the tendency to only have one lens through which we look at the world, [instead of] seeing the world through multiple lenses [where you] can take off one and put on another.”

One organization that stood out to her was the Youth Advocacy Foundation, which reintroduced law into Bobadilla’s path.

The YAF is a non-profit that works directly with the Massachusetts juvenile public defender agency and focuses on ending the school-to-prison pipeline.

“I did a poem for them, and they just really loved me as a person […] They saw that I was passionate about what they were passionate about, so they just kept me in the family,” shared Bobadilla.

After a recent talk, they asked if she wanted to become part of the board of directors. Bobadilla agreed and has been involved with them ever since.

At times, bringing together one’s creative passion and “professional” mission may seem difficult. The two fields may seem so disconnected that people may feel they have to forget about one to pursue the other. However, looking at Bobadilla’s career over the past few years, most notable is how she has clearly managed to move across international relations, to poetry and back to law.

“Throughout my trajectory, my mindset has not been ‘I’m going to do all the things so I can have a long resume,’ my mindset has been ‘I’m along for the ride.’” Bobadilla highlighted that her faith in God is what always kept her balanced and helped her understand what days are meant for rest and what days are meant for work.

“I don’t have this mentality that if all of the sudden I stop doing something, my doors are closed. […] I make sure that I’m living my life in the process […] because we are here today, and we are gone tomorrow.”