Even aside from the dance parties, singing and podcasts and pow-wows, the drive to Pennsylvania was a productive one. There was still work to be done, content to upload, videos and photos to organize and blog posts to edit! We were thrilled to reach the outer edges of Pittsburgh only to find some light rain and mud, this time (no ice!). It was official — we could stay and sleep our first full night at the park! After a couple of full on days, driving, event-ing and collecting heaps of engaging and exciting interviews, we were well primed for a proper snooze-fest, if only to prep us for the great day ahead in Pittsburgh proper.
We began the morning with our hosts at Athena Abroad in their gorgeous 8th floor office, overlooking the Allegheny River and surrounding historic buildings. It was a true sight to see, and we were all about the exposed brick walls inside. Most of us had never been to Pittsburgh before, so all the little things were definitely counting!
We were thrilled with the turnout, and even more so by the active conversations this morning. Joined by representatives from Akron University in Ohio, Robert Morris University, the University of Pittsburgh and the phenomenal staff at Athena Study Abroad, it was reassuring to reflect on the fact that the work we do in this field is arguably more important than ever now. Despite this being a challenging day for the US, it was meaningful for us all to take a couple hours out of our day, to pause and consider what this historical time would mean for our futures, and especially for the future of our students…
Fortunately, we resolved on a great potential for positive progress in the area of international education. Stacy McKay Benander, Founder and President of Athena Abroad, had some brilliant remarks on this area as well. “We have an opportunity to be part of the solution. Our role [with international education] has always been to expand perspectives, build experiences and (as cheesy as it might sound-) change the world… The benefits gained through international education are now more of a recognized need than they have ever been. It truly is vital, for us all to understand one another.”
Brittany Reed from Athena Abroad noted the significance of continuing to incorporate creativity, arts, and humanities in all of the interconnected work that we do. With those outlets becoming more limited in access for the general public, we have a unique position to continue sharing and practicing our own work on those areas, and adding great value. Jessica Sun of the University of Pittsburgh added that this movement was “more positive and less confrontational,” and that the provision of more equal rights for women was more focused affording progressive opportunities, rather than de-valuing any traditional beliefs or practices.
It’s hard to believe that the March will be here in less than 24 hours, but we write this post as more buses filled with supporters fly by us, on their way to Washington D.C. We’re extremely grateful for the support and opportunities which this cross-country drive has provided already. So in one more note before reaching Annapolis, we just want to say THANK YOU! We are definitely feeling the love and promise to share it/pay it forward, with every stop along this adventure.