Me and my mom, Heidi, in a London phone booth!
From the Queen of Buckingham palace to the Queen of the Music Stage, who runs the world? GIRLS. I was fortunate enough to witness this firsthand…in London!
I never really considered myself very lucky. Sure, I had won a game of bingo or two in the 5th grade lunchroom and may have won a few dollars in scratch-off lotto tickets over the years, but to win the Girl Up sweepstakes for a trip to London for The Sound of Change Live concert?! I could never have concocted that one in my wildest dreams, and it was so exciting to see artists like Beyoncé and Ellie Goulding come together to support girls’ and women’s empowerment!
Who more suitable to accompany me on this journey than the inspiring and empowering female figure in my life: my mom! Only 15 hours after receiving the news, we boarded the plane at Newark airport and were on our way! Giddy with excitement and delirious with jetlag, we laughed our way through the sites, streets and shops of London. (My apologies to my buddies who follow me on Instagram who had to endure the nonstop cliché images of British flags and phone booths!)
Soon it was chime time and we headed to Twickenham Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Florence + the Machine, John Legend, Rita Ora, Ellie Goulding, J-Lo, Jay Z, Timbaland, Beyoncé and more all united to support gender equality! In between these mind blowing music acts, celebrities and activists addressed the myriad of challenges facing women and girls all over the world, like the lack of access to health services or an education. Videos streamed of women and girls sharing their unimaginable experiences. Each story had a deep effect on me. During these moments, thousands of strangers watching were intimately united.
The event was certainly a rollercoaster of emotions. Chime for Change raised more than 4 million dollars for projects supporting women and girls (including one of Girl Up's projects to send girls in Ethiopia to school!) and, just as importantly, raised awareness of the gender disparities in justice, education, and health. As my weekend came to a close I realized I am extremely lucky; not because of the sweepstakes (which I still cannot believe happened) but because I have been blessed with the freedoms that Chime for Change and Girl Up fight for.