Updated: Nov 14, 2018
By Mariana Anaya | Monterrey, Mexico
I don’t think about how big the world actually is very often. Thinking about the infinity of cultures, their coexistence with the universe and the impossibility of understanding them all sounds somewhat overwhelming.
I firmly believe that the best way to understand the world a little more is to live with different, opposite people and face those differences with an open mentality. I had the opportunity to taste a bit of the multicultural terrestrial soup in a few days, with 20 girls from 13 different countries, who confirmed my belief of the value of diversity even more.
Since I read the email with the invitation to participate in the campaign Dream Big Princess I sensed that it would be an instant recipe for success. Disney and Girl Up grouped girls from 15 to 22 years old, almost by chance, but not quite. All women, with the same mission and the same burden that comes with being a woman, at different stages. The language had barrier potential, but our accents acted as bridges since most of us communicate in broken English, in occasional Spanish and even French under our breath. Lola, the girl from France, told me that when we met in Washington D.C she spoke as little as possible out of fear of her accent. Honestly, I had never been proud of mine, since I did not consider my Mexican accent "beautiful", but on that trip I learned to appreciate it. Non- U.S girls did not receive comments on our pronunciation as I feared.
Soon I realized that the selection of this particular group was not so random, because we clicked immediately.
We did not talk much about politics, but something that made us bond was the collective hatred towards President Trump. The Americans apologize on behalf of the country's current situation as we felt the eyes of people with MAGA hats pass by. Maybe I would have been intimidated if I’d been by myself, but no one would dare to look at 21 girls of all sizes and colours for a long time as they walked with their heads raised in front of the White House and in the streets of New York. Being with them made me realize the definition of them I truly empowerment. Nobody was ever alone. We took pictures, we said compliments to each other, we hugged just because we could. At no time did I feel insecure, even entering their rooms at 12 in the morning with my hair wrecked. There were times when I got tired of speaking English, but it was enough to turn to see Javiera, from Chile, and Eugénie, from Argentina, to power up. With them I discovered the power of music when in the van towards the airport they played "Muerte en Hawaii", a song by Calle 13 and, without thinking, the three of us recited the lyrics we knew by heart. There were times that I understood fewer phrases in Spanish than in English, and I concluded that Spanish speakers are equal in our ability to make up words.
As I listened to the stories of each girl and their respective countries, I felt like I was taking an accelerated history course. Sarah, from New Zealand, taught me about the traditions of the Māori people. When Maryam and Nivaal talked about Pakistan, I expected to hear stories of war and terror, but I was surprised by the stories of hope with the election of the new prime minister, Imran Khan, whom I had never heard of before. Both were so happy for their campaign, telling me about their experiences in Pakistan each year that they visit their family.
Traveling with these 20 girls was the equivalent of visiting Morocco, England and China all on the same day. I discovered that only because we are women do we share a collective memory, which allowed us to know more about the other without having spoken before. This could also be called a historical disadvantage, but in the end, the result is a union, a sisterhood of women, a community that even weeks after seeing each other gather to organize a Worldwide Secret Santa.
Listening to the stories of others made me a empathetic person, which is one of the objectives of the campaign. Making people known through their stories or stories is based on sharing experiences and inspiring others regardless of place or language. Being able to communicate without worrying about the language, imagining the realities of other people without having and perceiving the pain of others, is what binds us together.
I take away with me the kindness of Soukaina, the laughter of Sarah, the sensitivity of Lola, the energy of Javiera, the empathy of Aries, the patience of Eugenia, the cleverness of Kayla, the passion of Maryam and Nivaal, the courage of Tapiwa, the bravery of Madhurima. the fearlessness of both Marisas, the curiosity of Elo, Ally's intelligence, Maud’s perceptiveness, Jessica’s enthusiasm, Luiza's and Louise’s smile, as well as the love of all those who spent so much time helping us inspire other girls.
Your friendship is a constant reminder that anything is possible as long as we surround ourselves with incredible people who inspire us to fulfill our dreams every single day.