Monday, July 18, 2011

Study Hall and Alice Paul

I woke up this morning and immediately knew that it was going to be hot. This impression was only reinforced by Ms. Williams’s thoughtful text message reminding us to stay hydrated. I have been getting up later and later throughout the past week in a probably futile attempt to get more sleep. Therefore, I nearly missed breakfast, but managed to gulp down some pancakes and my daily grapefruit half before hurrying off to class. Don’t worry; promptness is too important for me to ever be late to class.

The bulk of our day today was taken up by study hall in a computer cluster in our building. We researched information for our Action Plan papers and our Amazing Women monologues. I am one of the lucky ones in that I don’t present until Wednesday, so I have a little more time. This allows me to spend more time on my other assignments as well. Throughout the study hall, we each had a one-on-one meeting with Kisa to discuss our Action Plans, much like the meeting with Laura and Tiffany yesterday.

Each time I interact with Kisa I like her more; she is always so open and supportive and encouraging. One of my favorite aspects of Summer@Brown is that all of the people here are so friendly and engaging. Everyone working here seems to genuinely want to be here, and it makes such a difference. From Kisa to Dean Robin Rose, Jen Madden, and Laura and Tiffany, our leadership fellows, all of the people who have helped us in class are amazing. They are intelligent and kind, and they really want to help you grow as much as you can and be the best you can be. It’s so inspiring… I want to be like them when I grow up! :)

This evening we had another workshop. Tiffany and Laura met us in a classroom in Solomon Hall for a movie night. I had sneaked a peek on our schedule, so I knew that we were watching “Iron Jawed Angels,” a movie about the women’s suffrage movement. I had seen this movie once before, in English class in the eighth grade. I remembered loving it and so I was pretty excited all day. The movie follows the struggles of Alice Paul, Lucy Burns, and the National Women’s Party as they attempt to pass the 19th Amendment.

There was some relatively shocking content in the film, including the imprisonment of about 200 women who picketed outside the White House during World War I. They were arrested and imprisoned on the bogus charge of “obstructing traffic.” The women went on hunger strikes while in prison, with Alice Paul leading the charge. Prison officials were so concerned about her role in leading the silent protests that she was put in solitary confinement in the psychiatric ward of the prison. Those in power who opposed Ms. Paul were afraid she would martyr herself by starving, so they force-fed her raw eggs by sticking a tube down her esophagus.

The film, although at times a little disgusting and often very sad, was pretty inspirational. I was really impressed with the dedication and passion that the suffragists had for their cause, and I hope that if I am ever tested like that, I can be as strong as they were.

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