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Student reflections on a monumental field trip for the Women’s March

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Sixteen students from San Francisco traveled to Washington, D.C., in January to partake in the Women’s March. (Courtesy photo)

Last week, I wrote about how I hoped our female students in the San Francisco Unified School District experience our schools as inclusive and empowering, and I listed a few ways we are making that happen. We also support students with learning outside the classroom. Here’s what some of our students had to say about a recent field trip to Washington, D.C.

Women’s March

Many of us recall the Women’s March on Washington, D.C., the day following the presidential inauguration. But did you know that some of our girls were there?

Funded by more than 30 individual donors and coordinated by our Peer Resources program, 16 students went on a field trip with staff escorts to take part in this historic day. Some of them had never left San Francisco in their lives. All of them were deeply affected by what they experienced there. Below are some direct quotes from our students.

The crowd: “When we started marching, I couldn’t see well because I’m short. So I took out my phone, held it over my head and started recording in all directions,” Odili said. “When I looked at what I recorded, I saw the biggest crowd in my life. I’ll never forget that amazing feeling, knowing that I was a part of that crowd. It just made me feel like everything will be better.”

Out of my comfort zone: “Attending the march meant breaking my comfort zone, and maybe others. I am an immigrant San Francisco woman who is unapologetically unafraid to travel all the way to where the White House is to express my resistance against the stripping of our rights,” Alma said. “I wanted to show my people that I am with them. I value our rights and, therefore, I will do anything possible to make our voices be heard. I learned that we are like water: graceful, but forceful.”

The woman I aspire to be: “Change starts with movements like these. We have a voice along with other girls. The march led me to grow into the open-minded and accepting person I’ve always aspired to be,” Andrea said. “Just before the trip, I turned 18. What a powerful way to make a mark as a fresh adult in the world. It is something I’ll carry forever. I’ve grown so much from it. I’ve been awoken in so many ways and realize the things that we internalize as a society — especially being the minority.”

Treasured tears: “I will always treasure in my heart my discussion with one older woman I met there. We had gotten off the subway and were waiting in line to go up to the escalators. A woman had asked me where our group was from. As I continued to tell her about Peer Resources and how excited I was to be there, she started crying,” Jackie said.

“She told me that she has been marching for more than 40 years — she’s 72 now — and that we give her hope for the future. She told me that she knows that the future is in good hands. It definitely gave me motivation to keep marching (although I am not an athletic person whatsoever)!”

I want to thank all of the individuals in our community who sponsored this trip for our students. I am forever grateful that they had the opportunity to participate in an event that changed their lives. I know these young women have already brought these important lessons home with them to share, as they grow as strong leaders in their own communities.

Myong Leigh is interim superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District.

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