United for Change: Two Paths, One Goal
I met Maru for the first time during my third year in high school. She was working in the school counseling office and I was a shy student coming to terms with my sexual orientation. I had been teased regularly growing up for acting “girly” and developed a strong defensive wall to shield me from the whispering suspicions and derogatory remarks. Meeting Maru changed all of that. After consulting with her and another school counselor, I decided to start my school’s Gay-Straight Alliance. We sat down initially to discuss the issues that students faced in my high school and if it was even possible to start an organization of that nature. At the time, it seemed like we were thinking big. Something like this had never seen long-term success at my high school and seemed to stand in stark contrast to the existing climate, which was often hostile and intolerant. Despite our initial expectations, we were hugely successful. The school was transformed into a more affirming environment for all students and a positive dialogue was maintained with administrators. I felt that our work had been significant and impactful, but I had no idea that it was just the beginning of a journey in activism. In addition, I could not have imagined the role that Maru would play in my life.
Together, we took our message to the local, state, and federal governments. As a team, it was clear that we were an unmatched force of energy and hope, fully prepared to address the issue of bullying in any capacity. Our efforts were facilitated by our proximity, as both of were in the Atlanta area with plenty of access to vital resources, and more importantly, each other.
Today, Maru and I are each traveling down different paths, hoping to reach the same goal. Our ambitions have taken me to the University of Georgia and Maru to Massachusetts. Despite our distance, we’re still working to continue the dialogues that we were able to start during our time in Atlanta.
Maru and I are reuniting at the end of March to run a marathon and half-marathon, respectively. We want to demonstrate that despite the different paths of life on which we currently travel, we can still work together to achieve a collective goal. Our efforts are geared toward raising funds for the Georgia Safe Schools Coalition, an organization that Maru and I have seen develop into a powerful force in the dialogue of school safety. I am completely thrilled to once again work in solidarity with a person that has touched my life in an extremely significant way. Although the road ahead will be long and arduous, there is no other person, nor another cause, that could motivate me further to conquer it.
Be part of our adventure: http://widget.chipin.com/widget/id/fa1b64d77a673cae