International Women’s Day: celebrating an unwavering attitude

By Kie Shidara, MS Student

Kie Shidara poses by the Golden Gate BridgeWhat does International Women’s Day mean to you? For me, it’s less about where one is in the world on a specific day, and more about a constant approach to life. This unwavering attitude to try to understand where someone else is coming from. Some call it compassion, others call it love. The wonderful thing is that there are so many ways to share that attitude with others.

What memories does International Women’s Day bring up for you? Sports is the first thing that comes to mind. The women who have left a lasting impact on me are those I’ve met through sports. It was more than an extracurricular activity; being a student-athlete was a lifestyle! Distance running was initially a way for me to connect with people from diverse backgrounds through our shared joy in the activity. It slowly became an opportunity to gain valuable lessons in self-discipline and teamwork. Something about struggling with a group of athletic women on seemingly endless hill repeats and long runs really bonds people together. We push our limits in each session, through literal blood, sweat and tears… and some broken bones to boot. Rain or shine (or even hail for that matter), we are out there hitting splits on grass loops. Race days, when we are finally able to showcase the collective hard work by bringing home a team trophy, are a time for everyone to celebrate. Running has brought the highest highs, the lowest lows, and somehow we learn to laugh through it all.

As a graduate student, I have had the opportunity to develop new associations with International Women’s Day. Though I grew up in the Bay Area, in some ways I feel like I’m an entire world away as a student at UCSF. The people I’ve met in my short time here-- students, faculty, and staff alike-- have been absolutely incredible. They hail from every region of the world, including Vietnam, Taiwan, Chile, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Israel, and Bangladesh. What a privilege and pleasure it has been to be able to listen to the perspectives and experiences of women, and the men who continue to empower the women in their lives. Thank you. And on that note, I’ll end by posing a final question: What kind of memories do you hope to create in celebration of International Women’s Day?