Tag Archives: Women’s March on Washington

Time to Say Goodbye!

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   It has been such an eventful fours months that it seems crazy that it’s all over! It has been a week of last celebrations, reminiscing and goodbyes. As some people head home and others move on to their next
adventures, it’s hard to accept that you’re not going to be spending every day with the same bunch of people that you have come to know and love.

Luckily, it’s not a final goodbye! People may live on opposite sides of the planet but its definitely not the last time you get to see each other. The experiences you share don’t disappear and the bonds you make last a lifetime. That’s the thing about studying abroad – yes you study and yes you are abroad. But it is the people that you share it all with that really make the difference.

Looking back on the semester, it has been packed with protests, parties, food, travel, learning, sport and friends! I got the opportunity to cross so many things off my bucket list! From witnessing the inauguration to participating in the Women’s March and Muslim Ban Protest. Spring Break in Miami to road tripping down South! Watching the Wizards, Tar Heels and Colonials win! Being in central park during a blizzard with no one else around. Pedal boating on the Potomac surrounded by the cherry blossoms. The countless nights spent down at the Lincoln Memorial. And not to forget the more mundane nights (which are also some of the best) of cooking all together in Shenkman Hall.

Studying abroad is a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn new things (both in and especially out of the classroom), try new things, learn what you like and don’t like, travel, meet people from all over the world! It is six months that you get to attempt anything and everything – fail at some and succeed at others.

It truly has been a great time at GWU, in DC and in the US. Foggy Bottom very quickly became our home that it feels genuinely weird to be leaving. To all those that made the past semester possible – a massive thank-you! And to all those who are about to arrive – enjoy!!!!

Goodbye America – it’s been fun!

 

Come Together – Right Now

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I don’t think there has been a better time to be in the heart of DC than this week.

On Friday, classes were cancelled, blockades were set up all over campus and security officers were on nearly every street in town, enforcing order and safety for those attending the inauguration. The wintry cold and rainy weather did not stop residents from all over America from turning up. Among a crowd of Trump supporters, we felt strangely out of sync and grew uncomfortable when the crowds started booing and displayed bouts of anger at other politicians and past presidents.

While the election outcome was fairly controversial, I was very glad to be able to see the inauguration up front, instead of laying on my couch behind a TV screen.

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Post inauguration and after a hearty lunch of ramen (and defrosting our fingers), we walked right into a protest on K Street. Placards, posters and flags were raised high as people marched down the street, and things gradually turned nasty as the police were called in. Lucky for us, we were near the back of the clash but were still ultimately at the receiving end of the tear gas.

Saturday saw one of the largest protests ever in America – the Women’s March. Men and women descended on the mall early in the morning in glorious pink p*ssyhats to stand up for women’s rights. It was also their way of sending a message to the new administration, that they would retaliate if other basic rights such as racial equality and freedom of speech are threatened. And it was not just in DC – sister marches occurred all over the country: New York, Utah and California among many others. What I enjoyed a lot about the march was also the witty and humorous signs made by protestors, written out in colourful language that would not be appropriate here.

Protests were not common back home (they’re actually illegal) and while my eyes and legs were sore from 2 days worth of protests, it will definitely be an experience to remember.

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The events of the weekend has taught me that things don’t always go the way they should. However, joining arms in solidarity and marching towards a common goal regardless of individual differences goes a long way in making a difference. It may not change the outcome of the election, but the craziness and unity exhibited by the thousands at the National Mall certainly swerves it onto a new course: the men, women and children of the world have their eyes on the White House and its new inhabitants.

For now, tension remains high and I’d like to remind everyone to be cautious of their actions and words in public to avoid needless risk and conflict.

Till then!

A Moment in History

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When I left Shenkman Hall on Friday the streets were deserted, trucks blocked off roads and helicopters flew overhead. Something out of a post-apocalyptic horror film, the day was not destined to be a day of celebration. We left early to ensure we had a good spot, however, upon arrival we realised how unnecessary it was when we had a clear view extending the length of the National Mall. The majority of GW students did not attend the inauguration out of protest, some went out of curiosity but few went in support. As both an exchange student and history student I was not going to miss the opportunity to witness the inauguration of President Trump.

Men, women and children donned t-shirts and hats all hoping to ‘make America great again’, with complete faith that Trump was the man that was going to achieve this ‘greatness’. I had never met a Trump supporter in the flesh and suddenly I was surrounded by thousands of them. Observing the election campaign from a distance I could not comprehend how Donald Trump managed to become President. Coming to the US I hoped to gain some insight into this and the inauguration provided the perfect opportunity to do so.

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I was aware of the stereotype of a Trump supporter but believed it to be a caricature created by the media and not representative of 46% of voters. The first man I encountered was a man in his 60s with tattoos on his forehead and neck, handing out flyers on how simple it is to be saved. One of the most extreme in the crowd, his main concerns were abortion and Israel. He believed that CNN and NBC are lying to the public and the only genuine source of information is Fox News. Stereotypes aside the man proved to be genuinely friendly and polite towards me.
As an exchange student in America, I feel extremely welcomed by students, staff and strangers. In a country so historically diverse and inclusive the events of the past year have been disturbing. Listening to Trump’s inaugural address with my fellow exchange students it was concerning to see how his presidency will affect us. As Britons, Australians and Koreans we were automatically excluded from Trump’s ‘America first’ narrative. The atmosphere at the inauguration was a celebration, however, it was not a constructive one. The crowd booed as Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton and Obama arrived on stage. They booed when Chuck Schumer mentioned the exceptional quality of all Americans, including those of different sexual orientation or gender identity.

The contrast between the inauguration and the Women’s March could not have been greater. The march may have been in response to the election result but people marched not because of Trump but in spite of him. The streets were jammed pack with nasty women and bad hombre’s protesting for their rights as women and Americans. The atmosphere was not filled with negativity towards immigration, LGBTQ or planned parenthood but rather positivity over the resilience of the American people. A sense of unification filled the air as hundreds of thousands of people march down Independence Avenue and towards the White House chanting ‘this is what democracy looks like’ and ‘love trumps hate’.

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I am extremely fortunate to not just observe the events of this weekend but participate in them. Being a part of history with so many others both in the US and over the globe is a once in a lifetime opportunity. The inauguration and the Women’s March provided me with a greater understanding of the election and the contrast between the two events highlights the challenges of the next four years. The Women’s March gives me with the hope that whatever Trump tries to achieve he will have to face the fight of the American people.