No Words, Only a Pure Sense of Gratitude

“Wow, this is a moment.” 
—Tammy Tibbetts

I contemplated not even putting words in this post.

Because I’m afraid that I wouldn’t do the day justice.

Because I’m afraid that nothing I can write will compare to what I felt today.

Because I realized that my life was forever changed in just 12 hours.

But… to keep things interesting for you, I guess I’ll narrate just a little bit. We woke up EARLY this morning (yes, after a very late night). We were up and out of the hotel by 7 am! Good thing there was a Starbucks right across the street from the hotel.. funny how that works here. After a little caffeine and a bagel on-the-go (thanks Opal and Kate!), we were off to SCHOOL!

 
We all took the subway over to Brooklyn (yes, all 32 or so of us in one subway car…) where we arrived at a branch of the Young Women’s Leadership School. We were “honored guests” at their International Day of the Girl assembly!

Monique got to talk to the girls, as well as Josie Loren (star of ABC Family’s Make it or Break It!).

And of course, my role model, Ann Shoket (Editor-in-Chief, Seventeen Magazine!). I’m so impressed by her ability to “keep it real.” She’s one of the most genuine media personalities and journalists I’ve ever had the privilege of listening to. She never fails to make me smile and feel so good about myself. After the assembly, we took a few team shots on the stairs outside.

From there, we took the subway directly to the HEARST TOWER! Back to my second home for the summer and it felt so good 🙂 I grabbed Jules for a quick photo by the famous fountains. We went directly up to Seventeen, where we sat in one of their conference rooms and watched a gripping documentary, just a small piece of “Half the Sky.” As I watched and listened to the girls share their stories of rape, abuse, and struggle… I broke down.  

What makes me so worthy of privilege? Why am I sitting here right now while girls around the world are fighting to live “normal lives” each and every day?

It was my second time crying already that day…. Lindsay Brown made me cry at the assembly in the morning too 🙂 It was when she quoted my senior quote, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams” that I just full on lost it.

We even got to Skype some of our girls at Shanti Bhavan (India)! HOW CUTE ARE THEY?

After that, it was time for our “assignment.” We rode the elevator down to a different conference room in the tower where we enjoyed some awesome lunch and conversation with our “luminaries” (older, influential people who are passionate about the challenges that face girls’ education). Our luminary, Holly Epstein-Ojalvo, guided us into a “solution” to fighting the lack of role models and ambition in schools in the developing world.

We came up with a “gardening initiative” that inspired girls to learn alongside their mothers in gardens planted on school property. This would not only inspire education, but it would also help foster role model relationships in families. Most of the time, we just need someone who believes in us to take the next step.

You give a girl an apple, she eats for a day. We give a girl a garden, she grows for a lifetime.

 

After a few hours “planning” and practicing, we left the Hearst Tower and made our way back to the hotel to get ready for our evening at a VIP Reception nearby!
 

Like she said to me at the party, we’re the perfect match in stripes and polka dots 🙂

Seriously, don’t make me leave. How can you beat this? Someone, please tell me.
Then… time for waterworks #3.
Monique did a great job kicking off the presentation, while both Tammy and Lindsay made me cry once again. The thing I realized about She’s the First, is that there is truly something special that draws people in. And doesn’t let go. 
As I was looking around at other volunteers in awe and extremely emotional while Tammy described our journey and where she sees us going as a non-profit organization (she has some BIG goals), I just let my emotions get the best of me. I think empowerment is creepy this way… almost like having an out of body experience that you know will impact you in some HUGE way.
 

I’ll end with exactly the reason I still can’t stop smiling tonight even while I get ready for bed.

These women.

The women all around the world we connect with.

The women leaders that are changing the world and breaking barriers.

The women in my own life that I am so lucky to call my mentors.

With Lindsay Brown, Seventeen Magazine Pretty Amazing Winner and new friend 🙂

A year ago, I met Tammy and She’s the First.

A few months ago, I found a home at STF HQ.

A few days ago, I realized how LUCKY I was to call this group family.

Tonight, I couldn’t imagine ANYWHERE else I’d rather be.

                   
And I think that’s pretty amazing.

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