gillian kendall-curvemagPresident Trump may not be my fault, but it’s my responsibility.

As a former resident of England, Australia, Egypt, and Germany, I felt a certain shame in front of the international community when Trump ostensibly won the election. Despite my best efforts at volunteering for Hillary’s campaign, and my support of efforts to sway the electoral college voters, this week the Groper-in-Chief took office. For myself and my fellow and sister Americans, I was horrified, but for my friends from overseas, I felt mostly embarrassment. Here is what I’d like to say to the world:

To my former students in Egypt, who were all Muslims, please know that this Christian American plans to sign any “registry” that is required of Muslims in this country. At the march I attended in Sarasota, Florida, I saw a veiled young woman holding a pro-choice sign. She was the only woman I’ve ever seen in this state wearing a veil; she showed great courage to stand by a busy intersection and let herself be seen supporting a point of view that, in this red state, is controversial.

To my friends in Germany and the UK, I want you to know that I was looking forward to seeing a photograph of world leaders Angela Merkel, Theresa May, and Hillary Clinton: three strong women, real allies, real leaders, really changing the world. I am distraught that instead of dealing with a strong woman president, Theresa May will be making a visit to the US in order to converse with a man who disrespects women and has no sense of history. Thank you for protesting in London and Berlin.

To my friends in Australia, I have great understanding now of your anger about right-wing former prime minister Tony Abbott. I want you to know, though, that the day after Trump’s election, I heard Australia mentioned on the national news as a “great ally” for the first time ever. I’m sure the Donald couldn’t find Australia on a map, but at least his press secretary knows about Australasian trade agreements. Thank you for protesting in Melbourne and Sydney.

I was thrilled to see the photographs of rallies and protests around the world. You can see an amazing array of demonstrations here.

I attended the “sister” march to the march in Washington, D.C., in Sarasota, Florida. I met up with friends at a café, and then they dropped me off to walk into the rally while they parked. None of us had any idea how many other people would show up. Based on my experience of past demonstrations in this area, I was expecting a few dozen people, or a few hundred at most.

But as I walked the blocks towards the waterfront gathering place, I saw other women striding purposefully forward. Some of them were carrying signs, and all of them were dressed for walking (here, that meant comfy shoes and sun protection). I began to get excited.

Then, as I came within a block of the rally, I heard cheers. Not just a lone voice or two, but a roar of voices in accord. Stepping into the intersection across from the waterfront, I was astounded to see protestors lining the street. Not dozens, not hundreds, but thousands of people had come out. First, I started crying from relief; then, smiling, I sped up to join them.

One of the best signs I saw all day summed up my own feelings about how America must look to the rest of the world today. A woman was standing on the Ringling Bridge, facing the oncoming traffic and waving. Her sign said, “Sorry, World! We don’t understand it either.”

And that, really, is what I want everyone overseas to understand: none of us saw this coming. You probably read the same polls and predictions that we did: Hillary was supposed to win. The fact that she didn’t is maybe not the fault of those of us who did all we could for her campaign, but the results ARE our responsibility. And, World, we’re going to do our best to mitigate disaster. The marches on Saturday January 21st were the largest demonstrations in US history. And we’re just getting started!

Next time: The slogans and photos of marches around the world.