The chill of an early September morning awoke the group of forty of us, comprised mostly of college students and a few faculty and staff members from the Center for Women's Studies. As we made the drive on the coach bus towards Seneca Falls, NY, the birthplace of the women's rights movement, I recalled my last visit to the small Upstate New York town. I had last seen the homes of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Harriet Tubman on a Girl Scout trip in the fourth grade. Then too young to quite understand the importance of these women, all I remembered was the disappointment I felt as I walked through those small, old, unfurnished homes. Upon hearing that our Women's Studies class was taking a field trip to this same location, I could only recall those lack-luster rooms. I thought to myself, I understand we've been learning about these women and have read a number of their works, and I respect the progress they made, but those houses are not much to see. However, what I did not consider were the changes that had occurred in my own life since then. Now I am a young adult, far more aware of the prejudices and social conventions that surround me. In addition, since taking Intro to Women's Studies, I have also become more educated on the struggle for women's rights. This is a movement and a history that is sorely under appreciated, and in my opinion, not taught enough to young students.
We entered Stanton's home and stood in the living room where Stanton first met with other revolutionary women of her time and began to plan a convention that would forever change the lives of women in the United States. It was then that I realized the intention of us going on this trip, for however early we woke up and however much homework we all had on our minds, there was nothing more empowering and humbling than being in Stanton's house and imagining all of those women who we are forever indebted to.
It is not always about the sights, the smells, the largest paintings hung on the walls of a museum, or the size of a gift shop. What it really comes down to is immersing yourself in history and applying it to your life, for one must consider what these ordinary people sacrificed in order to better the lives of others. That is when true understanding and appreciation can occur.
-Natalie Krause '17