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Analyzing Amanda Gorman's Poem "The Hill We Climb"

On February 7, Pathway interns held a meeting to discuss and analyze inaugural poet Amanda Gorman’s poem, “The Hill We Climb.” Interns began by watching the video of Gorman reciting her poem on January 20th, then went into breakout rooms to further discuss individual lines, sections, and stores associated with her poem. Overall, these discussions contained heartfelt, analytical, and thought-provoking ideas and stories that derived the discussions.

To begin, interns in their breakout rooms shared their favorite line from the poem that they would hypothetically share to social media. Some lines included, “because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation. Our blunders

become their burdens,” “[i]t's because being American is more than a pride we inherit, it's the past we step into and how we repair it,” and “[w]e've learned that quiet isn't always peace.” All of these quotes from “The Hill We Climb” share a similar story of taking action together, as a community, while putting our differences aside.

As interns continued to analyze Gorman’s poem, they proceeded to the middle section where Gorman discusses “catastrophes.” Interns discussed what Gorman might have meant by that term, and whether it has a universal or more personal meaning in a larger context. It was ultimately decided that most interns interpreted Gorman’s idea of “catastrophes” differently, and thought of which catastrophe affected them the most. Another part of the middle of Gorman’s poem was the section saying, “[s]o let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left with.” Interns talked about what younger generations imagine that might look, sound, and feel like. Many thought of a world with less polarization, fighting misinformation, and bringing people together to become more equal; to become a union with a purpose.

Another critical aspect of Gorman’s poem was the use of “we” throughout the entirety of “The Hill We Climb.” The use of plural pronouns aids greatly in giving the American people a sense of belonging, fellowship, and most importantly, a connection in these “catastrophic” times. Everyone has to work together to strive for a better future. This message resonated with the audience, and it was as if Gorman became a part of them with her poem. As the poem continues, she references light throughout. But what type of light is she referencing? Interns decided that when Gorman talked about light, she was talking about a better and brighter future, one with change and hope. And how do we embody it? We use education and change through volunteering and community involvement.

Here are a few main ideas taken from Gorman’s poem, presented by the interns:

Melissa Lin: We need to take action ourselves instead of relying on others to accomplish things, and we need to work together to accomplish our goals. Amanda Gorman’s poem was a call to action.

Kevin Xiao: We mustn't “sow division.” As humans, there will always be mistakes that we make, but we can work through problems together and be productive. The poem captures the idea of the need for unity.

Claire Ong: There’s always better days, but a lot of us choose to stay where we are. It’s easy to say other people can do it. We have to not only see the change, but be the change.

Finally, advisor Conrad Lee concluded the discussion with a heartfelt message. We have to work with other people to accomplish the things that truly matter. We are working together amicably to reach a solution. Though perfection may never be reached, we must continue to strive towards it.

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