Two years ago on Aug. 5, a San José copper-gold mine located in Chile’s northern Atacama Desert, caved in, trapping 33 miners 2,257 feet underground. “The 33,” as they were quickly known around the world, survived a staggering 69 days underground before their rescue.
Fresh out of high school, Adelaine Davidoff arrived in Chile ready to start a year-long scholarship to study Spanish in the northern city of Copiapó the same day as the San José mine accident. Her host family lived 10 minutes away from the mine.
Davidoff was no stranger to unions and the labor movement before her year abroad in Chile.
“I grew up with a labor leader dad and a public school teacher mom,” she says. “I kind of grew up on the picket line.”
But her experience living in Chile’s mine country made her see labor relations in a whole new light.
“I was able to see the oppression and physical dangers that workers were going through on a day-to-day basis while living with a mining family,” Davidoff recalls. “And that really triggered an internal fire to fight for them and fight for workers here [in the United States] too.”
Now a sophomore at Cornell University, 18-year-old Davidoff is one of four interns currently participating in the AFL-CIO’s two-month Union Summer internship in Washington, D.C., where she spends her weekdays at AFL-CIO headquarters with the Center for Strategic Research team. The internship allows college students and young leaders to gain exposure to organizing campaigns while also building their skills in strategic corporate research.
“At the Center for Strategic Research and at the AFL-CIO in general,” Davidoff says, “I have had the opportunity to learn from seasoned experts on research, organizing and international solidarity that are not only incredibly talented, but also humble and open.”
Energetic, sharp and inquisitive, Davidoff does not ascribe to the polite dictum of "no discussion of politics or religion" at the proverbial dinner table.
“To me,” she says, “those are the two things people should be talking about.”
She enjoys openly discussing new ideas and challenging or reassessing old ones. At Cornell, she studies industrial labor relations but is also interested in cultural and ethnic studies and sociology. She’s a member of the Cornell Organization for Labor Action, which brings “the concerns of organized labor and the unorganized oppressed to the attention of the school and the university,” according to the Cornell Industrial Labor Relations School Web site.
It has taken me 16, 17, 18 years to figure out how my day-to-day life is impacted by the workers outside of Cornell....This realization of [our] interconnectedness invigorates me to fight for the people—even if I can’t see them every single day.