International #FridaysForFuture Demo: The Day the Students Spoke
Making an Impact!
The younger generation have a strong voice!
Whoever attended the #FridaysForFuture demo this past Friday will probably agree that it was incredible!
Hundreds of thousands of concerned students, parents and teachers around the world gathered to talk about our future on this beloved Earth.
Greta Thunberg, the initiator of this movement is not only leading the way to force the government to finally crack down and make some necessary changes so that we can survive as a species, she was just nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize!
Climate Change is Real
Scientists agree that our planet is resilient so we won’t get the opportunity to completely ruin our planet. Whew, right?
The only thing we will accomplish is to ruin our chances to exist on this planet.
We‘re actually leading the way toward our own extinction. Until stricter laws and regulations are written and enforced and we humans become more mindful with our own consumption, we‘ll just continue to speed up this process.
Which is why millions are now taking their worry and anger to the streets.
The younger generation is scared because we‘re not leaving them much hope.
And I don’t blame them.
So, my daughter and I decided to join them on the streets!
Breaking the Law
When the demos started in February, two students came into my daughter’s classroom to talk about it. They were trying to inspire students to participate, but also warned them of the consequences.
In Germany, school is mandatory and the school district sent out an official statement saying that if students attend the demo, they’ll receive an F for each class missed that day. My daughter will get 6 Fs for March 15, 2019, and it will show up on her report card.
And I‘ll attach a photo of her at the demo to her report card.
That said, she‘s an excellent 6th grade student and I don’t believe this will affect her overall grades this semester.
So as soon as I found out about the international demo this past Friday, I called the school and talked to her teacher so that it was very clear my daughter’s attending the demo. I explained that we both understood she will get these Fs on her report card.
Later that evening, I received an email from her teacher explaining that the director mentioned there may be further consequences if we follow through.
I, as the parent, am responsible for my daughter’s actions and may receive a fine to pay or I may have to do some type of community service. I have no idea, but I wrote back thanking her for this additional information but that I’m ready to be held responsible and she’s ready to get those Fs because climate change is important for us.
I also sent her teacher an image of the poster my daughter drew and the speech she prepared and that I‘ll be the last person to take this experience away from her.
Her teacher is very nice btw and understands our position but also has to do her job according to the school district rules and regulations.
The Next Morning
Leandra polished her speech and read it out loud a few times. I could tell she was nervous, but also very curious and excited.
Little did she know how this one day will shape the rest of her life.
I knew it though.
We arrived at the Rathaus (City Hall) in Dortmund, Germany right on time and tried so desperately to hear the speakers, but there were too many people and the microphone wasn‘t loud enough.
So we heard what we could and yoohoo’d when others did.
The atmosphere was alive and the chants were abound: „Wir sind hier, wir sind laut, weil man uns die Zukunft klaut!“ The translation in English isn‘t as good because it doesn‘t rhyme. „We are here, we are loud because you’re stealing our future!“
My daughter then asked nervously, „Mom, should I go up there and speak?“
I said some encouraging words, but it was crowded, we could barely hear the speakers and it was a little overwhelming to her, so she didn‘t want to do it.
She folded the piece of paper of her speech and put it in her pocket.
I gave her some more words of encouragement because I wanted to motivate her and not give her the feeling I‘d be disappointed if she didn‘t. Because I wasn‘t.
She was there, she was loud and I was proud of her with or without her speech.
Who was there
We saw more students than anyone else, but there were also parents and teachers there.
We saw entire classes from supporting schools who viewed this as an opportunity to teach their students about climate change.
And groups that have formed over the past couple of weeks such as Parents for Future!
Of course there were students who apparently were only there to get out of school and smoke, but they were in the minority.
And outshined by students I overheard talking about these world issues. Discussing them with intelligence and action-oriented mindfulness.
By the young artist who used chalk to draw a whale who died from eating too much plastic.
And the young poet who read her beautiful words about Gaia, the ancestral mother of all life, the primal Mother Earth goddess in Greek mythology.
And the many who spoke on stage.
Then We Took to the Streets
After about an hour, we started marching along the Wall, the main road that circles the city center in many German cities.
Business owners stopped and watched us from inside the comfort of their warm, dry store. It had been raining for the past two weeks and Friday gave us no relief either. But that’s OK, we were dressed appropriately.
This part of the demo was the most fun because we were moving. It felt different and we met some nice like-minded people along the way!
After arriving at the big church an hour later, we listened again. The acoustics were a little better, but still, we didn‘t hear a lot.
Then we marched back to the Rathaus.
Only about 500 people were left at that point. They mostly scattered after the stop at the church which was OK because we were finally able to hear the speakers.
There is no Planet B
Speaking and Taking Action
Since the crowd was now more manageable, my daughter asked me again, „Mom, should I speak now?“
And that was that, she knew the time was right and it was now or never.
So, I escorted her on stage to stand in a short line of others who wanted to speak from their hearts.
Isabelle got up there and talked about joinjulianne.org, a 20 member group of young activists who are suing the US government for their continuous use of fossil fuels. So of course, I spoke to her as I don’t meet many Americans in Dortmund at demonstrations.
And soon enough, my daughter was on stage:
„Hi, my name is Leandra and I‘m 12 yrs. old…“
She didn‘t want me to publish her whole speech, but a photo was allowed.
She talked about not only that we have to change too, but also gave a few suggestions of how to do this in addition to where the gov‘t needs to step up.
She did it! Her first speech ever. Making her the youngest speaker in Dortmund that day. On such an important issue and event!
The School of Life
This was an experience of a lifetime for my daughter and many other students. Not only is this experience invaluable, during the entire demo, she was alive, motivated and thinking about ways to reduce her own carbon footprint by suggesting to ride the bus to ballet instead of having me driving her.
She even used the word impact!
I’m often very proud of her and so standing up there on stage was the cake.
But the fact that she’s still talking about how to help is the icing which is so much sweeter!
That Friday, on March 15, 2019, she attended the School of Life which will be a super exhilarating and positive memory forever.
Power to the People.
My Favorite Sign
Massentierhaltung überwinden! = Get rid of industrial farming!
Were you also at a demo? Either with Fridays for Future, Extinction Rebellion or another group? Please comment below and let’s talk!
Peace and love,