Journey to Justice

Train of Thoughts


I’m sitting on a train watching the endless acres of England roll by. From a dainty snow fall to a heart warming sunrise to the mystical fog, and then enchanting rays of sunshine all dancing over the flat green land and charming, humble homes, as if each taking their turn in the queue. I struggle to keep my eyes open to absorb all the beauty of it while I try to rely on the mere three hours of sleep I had gotten. I had just returned to London from a weekend trip to Scotland and now here I am again, back on the train, this time on my way to Newcastle. I am on my way to a day full of events, meetings, and site seeing for my internship with Journey to Justice. As I stare out the window I cannot help but begin to imagine the emotions my grandmother must have felt taking a train off into the countryside during the war so many years earlier. It feels crazy to think that just one generation removed, there is such a vast difference between her life and mine. She was forced onto a train and separated from her parents and her sisters with no clue what fate awaited her, in order to be protected from potential bombings. I, on the other hand, am headed to Newcastle to attend the unveiling of a plaque for Fredrick Douglass and an event on empowering women. Times have really changed, and my reasons for leaving London are far more positive than my grandmother’s, however on this train I feel more connected to the my grandmother and the way she must have been feeling than ever before.

My grandmother did not have much choice in life; from a young age most things were decided for her so when she came to America she settled down to find a life of her own. She went to a university and became a therapist and worked her way to bring her future generations to a better place. I feel so honored, all this time later, to be able to return to her homeland and be a part of a movement for social change and bear witness to such phenomenal events.

Watching the plaque honoring Fredrick Douglass be unveiled is such an empowering experience. This is the very house where he stayed and was able to eventually buy his freedom. This is a beautiful honor and tribute to such a dark time in history. I am also empowered to be able to be in the presence of three inspiring women later this day who have all worked in professions that have been predominantly male and will share their life experiences. While these both mark wonderful success, the mission for justice continues.


Though my grandmother, these three women, and Fredrick Douglass all give reason to celebrate progress, however there is still a great ways to go. So many people are struggling and so many people feel their voice goes unheard. While the aim of social justice and equality may not be easy, it is well worth the reward. From looking at history and of the incredible and brave souls such as Fredrick Douglass and these pioneer women, people can learn how to cultivate change in their own lives. Everyone has a different challenge they are facing but the options are always the same. You can wait for change to happen or you can be the change that you want to happen. My grandmother took charge of her life and got the education she needed in order to pursue a career of her own. These women went ahead and sought after their jobs before it was socially acceptable for women to be in their positions. Fredrick Douglass worked hard to educate himself and removed himself from the horrible state of slavery he had been born into. Each of these people achieved seemingly impossible goals and they all did it with an element of perseverance and determination. It may not always feel like it but you really do always have an option and it is up to you to write the narrative of your life. Like a train, the wheels keep moving, taking you forward and while you may not be able to stop or turn back, it is your decision whether you will lay your own tracks ahead or let the cart carry you along.

Hana Bellin


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