In Solidarity We Rise

by Andrea Zamora, Member of Alliance for Girls' Young Women's Leadership Board & Student.

Through my involvement with Alliance for Girls and being part of the Girls Leadership Team, I was invited to attend a conference for three days in Washington D.C. The conference called “In Solidarity We Rise: Healing, Opportunity and Justice for Girls,” was the first conference that I ever attended. It was also my first time ever being in an airplane. It was definitely a new experience and I didn’t know what to expect. I also wasn’t too sure how a conference was set up or what we were suppose to do. Throughout the whole time, I was excited about attending my first conference but I was scared of my workshop and having to present in front of others. I tend to get really nervous about saying something wrong and messing up in front of an audience. During the conference, we were able to present our work on revamping Oakland Unified School District’s sexual harassment policy and the process that it all came about from conducting research to the Girls Leadership Team to working together and transforming the policy. I felt relieved when we were done presenting and got good feedback. Along with my workshop, were other organization presenting and teaching others about their work and things they can implement if they wanted to do something alike. 

It was amazing being in a room full of people who want to help girls and have created a meaningful impact. Through these workshops which I visited throughout the three days, I learned a lot from other groups and their work. One thing that stood out to me was the fact that, like Alliance for Girls, there are many other organizations around the nation doing similar things. They have created and passed policies to improve their community and to help women in particular. They all shared that the girl was the voice and only she knew her experience and ways to possibly prevent it from happening. I had no idea that most of these organizations existed until the conference. Until learning about the organizations was I actually able to acknowledge all their hard work and effort to help create a better change. It was beautiful seeing how each group was uplifting young girls in a different way. Some organizations focused on women in the system and creating a movement to transform the systems and providing help to these women so they don’t return back to what hurt them in the first place. Others, help women involved in sex trafficking as well as creating a place for healing and wellbeing for women who have been incarcerated. 

I feel so lucky to have met amazing, kind people during this three day conference. I made great friends which I know I’ll stay in touch for a lifetime. I was able to fly in and out of Washington D.C. with a local organization in Oakland called Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice. I built a friendship with the members of that group. On my last day at the conference, I was able to meet some amazing women from the Pu’a Foundation in Hawaii. The time we met and got to know each other was very short, but I see them as family because they brought me in and treated me as if I was their family member. I will never forget them because their presence gave me a sense of peacefulness and positivity in my life. The people I met and the monuments I visited while in DC are truly unforgettable and it’s an experience I’ll always look back on. I’m so thankful that Alliance for Girls gave me this opportunity to be able to travel and learn more. This conference has impacted my life in a positive way. I never would’ve thought that I would’ve been able to travel to DC to share my work about something that I’m passionate about. Thank you so much Alliance for Girls for giving me the opportunity to use my voice to create an impact in my community and providing me with this unforgettable experience.