Attending the Women’s March abroad

In light of the presidential election, equality, human rights, and the future of America are at the forefront of many people’s minds. This is not isolated to just Americans either. Worldwide, people are coming together to show their support for one another and for those who are being discriminated against for their race, gender, sexuality, or beliefs under the Trump presidency.

On Jan. 21, the day of the Women’s March in Washington D.C., Sister Marches sprang up all over the world. I, as well as seven other Colby students, were  in Paris, France, studying abroad during this time. Before this trip, I had never participated in any marches or protests. I didn’t know what to think of the election, but often my classmates and I found ourselves talking politics at dinner. Many people were upset and I understood that President Trump would be a setback in terms of moving toward equality, but I didn’t fully grasp how far the government could affect the lives of Colby students.

I had been talking to friends on campus that told me they would be marching in D.C., and they seemed very passionate. One of my classmates in France, Mattie Wyndham ’19, asked me if I would march in Paris with her. I was apprehensive but intrigued. I believe in women’s rights, obviously, so why not? Wyndham also asked two other classmates to join.

That Saturday morning we took the Metro to Trocadéro (the typical picturesque spot to see the Eiffel Tower from afar) and people began to gather outside the Open Plaza. The first people we saw were a elderly couple that seemed out of place. That was before I noticed their “Abort Trump” and “We’re still protesting this shit?” signs that hung around their necks as they smiled and slowly waded through the crowd.

People continued to gather with the Eiffel Tower in the distance. There was a mix of Americans and Parisians with many signs and differing chants. Everyone was full of joy, and we heard people meeting all around us. Some people had signs against Trump such as “Not My President”, while others had signs aimed at specific human rights such as “My Body My Choice.”

Although everyone had a different reason for coming to the march, we all stood together, sharing our beliefs and supporting one another. After 45 minutes of people gathering, the crowd slowly began to move as 7,000 people marched through the streets chanting and singing in both English and in French. My favorite was “Égalité pour tous!” (Equality for all) that an outgoing French woman started behind me. 

We walked from the Trocadéro and to the Place de la Concorde. The whole march took about two and a half hours, and the electricity of the crowd was palpable the entire time.

“For me, one of the things I loved so much about it was that I felt solidarity with fellow Americans and Parisians. It was such a diverse scene that it felt everyone knew we had to protect each other. It was an inclusive movement and it felt really joyful, which surprised me. I didn’t think it’d be so fun and exhilarating, and that there would be so many happy moments,” said Wyndam. She compared the Women’s March in Paris to other marches she has attended, explaining that her first big march at Colby was Take Back the Night. “I went into it thinking, ‘this is really serious’ and ‘we shouldn’t be laughing here,’ but as I’ve gone to more marches I learned that no, this is also a space for community and resistance and in resistance there is joy, laughter, and complexity,” she said.

Overall, the march was eye-opening and fun. Although I wasn’t a seasoned activist like Wyndam, I found myself feeling empowered by the sheer number of people around me that cared. The experience was truly heartwarming.

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