Wednesday night we began creating our posters. Paint everywhere, recycled cardboard scattered all over the art room, and music blasting, the only thing we could all think of was the upcoming Friday afternoon. That Friday, we were going to be leaving Chewonki and driving to Augusta, Maine, for the People’s Climate March.
Near the State House, we parked the buses and jumped out, ready to join the march. There were stations set up, where free posters were laid out for marchers to use as well as stickers and pins being sold. Not a lot of people were there, but we made sure that our presence and excitement was known, no matter how small of a crowd. As we walked around as a semester, more and more people gathered near the State House, until we couldn’t see anything but the sea of posters and humans surrounding us. Listening, cheering, and laughing, we awaited the start of the march.
People of all ages, gender identities and races were there. We were all in one place, united by the shared motivation of bringing awareness to the issue of climate change. I felt a part of something, a community, even though I am not a resident of Maine. We were all linked by our understanding that humans are negatively impacting our environment.
The march started out beautifully, with musicians, politicians, artists, motivators and organizers exciting the crowd and sharing their beliefs on how to change our world for the better. Both republican and democratic politicians spoke, and both were cheered on by the crowd.
As soon as the last speaker finished, the announcer shouted “Let’s begin the march!” We were off. Clumped together, chanting as loudly as we could, I noticed I was beginning to loose my voice, but that did not stop me. I screamed with my best friends, “There is no planet B!” and used the tune of the song Beach Party to chant “Save our mother!!!” I could feel the sun beaming down on my face and an overpowering feeling of joy and love for the people around me.
Once we returned to the front of the State Building, our starting point at the march, my friends and I felt the desire to continue marching and chanting. That short loop around the State Building did not feel sufficient enough for us. So, we did just that. We walked onto the lawn in front of the State Building, where nobody was, and continued chanting and jumping up and down.
After chanting for around a minute, a crowd of people on the sidewalk next to the lawn started to form. People were taking out their cameras and phones and taking videos of us. They joined in on our chants, smiling as the sun reflected off of their cameras. We continued for about fifteen minutes until we were tired out and decided to circle up and eat our lunch.
On that afternoon, eating my sandwich and soaking in the sun, I felt so proud to be a part of not just the march, but also Chewonki. My Spanish, history, and natural history teachers sitting next to me, and my best friends surrounding me, all I could think of was how lucky I was to have met so many amazing people in such a short period of time. Not only were we part of the march, but we ran it. Throughout our entire lunch, people came up to ask us who we were and where we were from. Some of the speakers even joined us!!!
That afternoon perfectly summed up my experience at Chewonki. Maine Coast Semester isn’t just a group of people who come together and learn for half a year. It’s a community. It’s a place that is supportive and exciting and filled with opportunities. This program is filled with some of the most special individuals I have ever met. Individuals who are passionate, relentless, joyful, and compassionate. Everyone here wants to get to know you at a deeper level and wants to support you in expressing who you are. We are more than a community, we are a family here and I cannot imagine my life without these people.
Juliet, Riverdale Country Day School, NY