International Women's Day
While every part of my trip to Colombia for the inaugural PSA Floridablanca tournament was incredible, the highlight was definitely being chosen as the speaker (to talk in Spanish!) at a local celebration for Internationals Women's day.
While the holiday is growing in popularity in the United States, Dia de las Mujeres in Colombia is a proper national holiday, with parties and celebrations of all sizes throughout the country in honor of all mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, aunts, grandmothers and women of all ages! In the small town of Floridablanca, where the PSA tournament was being held, the mayor organized a small celebration for all of the rural working women from the surrounding mountain villages. Most of these women must work a full 12 hour work day in addition to taking care of their children and managing their homes, in many cases they are the only breadwinners in their families.
In a beautiful community park overlooking all of Foridablanca, we all congregated to indulge in some traditional local sweet cakes and drinks while we were serenaded by a live band. As tradition calls for, every woman was presented with a rose and small gift as well. Fellow player Samantha Terran and I were asked to come to this event as the honored speakers to get up and present the stories of our lives, the details of being a professional athlete, and what it means to be a female globe trotter. At first I found it very intimidating, stumbling through, in my high school Spanish, my story to 400+ people. But, everyone was so nice and welcoming and encouraged me to continue talking about how my younger sister and I started playing squash and how it eventually took us to Harvard. From there it was easy to continue, as I could see how mezmorized and awestruck they were to hear me speak about the importance of education and of women sticking together, and finally what life is like on tour, competing against the strongest, most inspirational group of women I know. When I finished, I was met with an overwhelming applause and an endless line of 400 women standing with their arms open, waiting to give me a hug and take a photo.
While everyone there seemed to be amazed at my story and so grateful to have met me, it was truly my honor to have been asked there to get to know this group of incredibly hardworking and happy women. This experience was hugely gratifying and one that I will cherish and remember fondly when I look back on all of my squash travels.