Making History


Today has been crazy busy (hello toddler nap that was cut brutally short because of a loud noise, the ensuing chaos of a tired child, and general world insanity) so a super quick post about two things that are making me smile today.

First, I stayed up WAY too late last night watching the DNC’s roll call. What a wonderful and extremely American way of doing things. I loved hearing each state’s highlights and seeing people of all different ages, ethnicities, and religions united for one thing: to practice democracy. I was particularly moved by the 102-year old woman, who was born before women had the right to vote, speaking for her state.

I was more moved by the nomination process than I’d expected, even though I went to a K-12 girls’ school that gradually became co-ed starting when I was in 8th grade (and by gradual, I mean I had a handful of boys in my class beginning in 9th grade). In 4th grade, we did a unit on “herstory” and studied the lives of groundbreaking women. We researched various figures, wrote monologues about them, and performed our monologues in costumes that we designed. I was Anne Hutchinson. We did other memorable projects — on Greek mythology, the US states — but from an early age, we were aware of how women’s stories often went untold and that women’s contributions were often undervalued or overlooked. We, of course, were being prepared to change that world.

Then I went to Wellesley where Hillary was already a legend, and she also happened to be the current First Lady. I graduated from college at the end of the (first?) Clinton era, at the height of optimism, when not only had the federal budget been balanced, but we had a surplus, and the tech industry was still in its internet boom, and 9/11 wasn’t something we could have imagined. We were Wellesley women. Our official motto was “Not to be served unto but to serve” but in reality we knew it was “We’ll sleep when we’re dead.” We were meant to change the world.

While at Wellesley, I took classes and did research at MIT, and I’d joke that MIT was training single-minded scientists — students would focus on ideas or classes that intrigued them and go all in — whereas at Wellesley, we were learning to be superwomen. Our activities and friends and classes were of equal and vital importance, and we juggled and prioritized and learned to divvy up work and get things done. An MIT mentor once told me that at the end of any group meeting he’d attended with a Wellesley woman present, she was always the one to pull out a notebook and say, “Okay, so how are we doing this, and what’s the timeline?” That was how you could spot a sister: she was confident, and she was organized.

So, I was watching and talking online with my Wellesley sisters as one of us changed the world. And I was moved.

This song has been playing on a loop in our home today — first so I could listen to it and subsequently because the cranky toddler kept saying, “Encore ça!”

The fun part? The Wellesley students at about a minute in are in the living room of my sophomore year dorm.

Okay, so that wasn’t so quick after all. This second one will be:

There’s a really nice piece about the Summer of Darkness app in Ars Technica today. It was written by Annalee Newitz who really got and conveyed what excited us about the project in the first place. So check it out, and, as always, share it if you like it.

© 2016 Anindita Basu Sempere. 
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