On January 21st, several residents at ISH broke their lazy Saturday brunch routine and rose up early in the morning to prepare for a historic event. I had been anticipating the Women’s March on Washington for several months now. While its objectives resonated with me, I was not sure what my role should be as an international student in this country. What would this march lead to? Would our voices be taken seriously?
From our ISH doors, we marched as six women representing eight nations: Rwanda, Vietnam, Germany, Canada, Bosnia, Libya, India, and the United States. Our group was a microcosm of the diversity of backgrounds and issues motivating an estimated 500,000 individuals who gathered in Washington that day. We each had different reasons for marching, and yet we all rallied as one powerful force that sought to deliver a clear message to the incoming administration: we are present, and we are watching. We treasure our rights, and we will advocate for them relentlessly.
I was overwhelmed by the inspiration I felt that day. The positivity and enthusiasm I witnessed among the hundreds of thousands of people at the capital was unparalleled to any rally I have seen before. There was no anger or violence, no denial or desire to overcome our current situation. We simply wanted our voices to be heard as we advocated for the rights of our women, immigrants, refugees, environment, and the quality of our race relations.
I have had some time to reflect along with my fellow ISH women. In a world where fear and inequality have been motivating leaders to close their borders and focus inwards, we are in a position where we can speak up and build bridges of mutual empowerment and understanding.
I will never forget that day. I feel privileged to have experienced it with my bright, worldly, and passionate fellow ISH residents.