Three days ago, I was lying in bed reading through article after article about the refugees and green card holders who were being turned away from the United States and I was becoming increasingly agitated over the state of our countries affairs. I quickly started emailing my mentor, Sarah Stanlick, about my frustrations and desire to hold a Rally of Solidarity at Lehigh. She instantly agreed and with her approval I began sending emails to just about everyone I could think of, mind you it was 11 p.m. on a Saturday night. I honestly wasn’t expecting to get any responses until the following Monday and I began planning the event with the expectation that there would be an attendance of forty maybe fifty people at the rally.
I could not have been more wrong. I instantly began receiving emails back from faculty, students and staff who all gave me their full support. I can’t even begin to tell you how many people were behind me on this effort and how quickly this event spread. Within minutes of my posting the flier I was receiving messages from friends advertising the event and I was surprised to find the poster popping up all over social media. Various professors sent out emails to their programs alerting their students and I even received calls from Professors who wanted to turn the rally into a class assignment for their students.
Today, I was walking up to the rally with some professors and was amazed to see the size of the crowd that was building at the flagpole. We were walking beside students who were carrying carefully designed posters and other students who were skipping class simply to be in attendance. As I stood in front of the crowd I began to truly feel the enormity of what I had just organized. I was looking around at the crowd with their vibrant posters and smiling faces. I saw professors and faculty in attendance with their children and local reporters there who were reporting on the rally. It was a lot to take in and as friends, professors and fellow students began to speak I was further moved by their stories and experiences.
Lehigh is a special place and anyone who goes here will understand that but never during my time at Lehigh have I felt so empowered. This university has worked very hard over the last several years to foster an inclusive and supportive community and this was the first time that I truly saw all of that work come together. I’m not saying that this hasn’t happened in the past but for me personally, this was my first experience of a true community at Lehigh outside of a sports game.
I am proud to be a Lehigh student and I am proud to be a citizen committed to welcoming refugees and migrants into this country. During their speeches, some students reflected on how long the next four years are going to be with Donald Trump as our president and maybe they’re right. But if we were able to organize an event of this caliber in just three days, imagine what’s possible over the next four years. The fight doesn’t end here. In fact, it’s just begun.
Photos Courtesy of All Points Images