Ed. note: in honor of this season of Thanksgiving, some members of the SPARKteam asked to take this week to publicly reflect on their experiences with SPARK and their fellow activists. We cried a lot reading these. We love you, SPARKteam. xoxo

by Shanzeh Khurram

When I applied to SPARK a few months ago, I had no idea that I’d end up loving it as much as I do. I just expected it to be about writing a bunch of blogs and taking part in some projects every now and then. I never thought that I’d get so emotional at the thought of being part of this amazing, beautiful team that I now view as extended family. Joining SPARK is probably the single best decision I’ve made this year.

Sometimes I just sit back and think about how lucky I am to be part of this group. Before joining SPARK, I never thought I could actually make a difference. I felt helpless against patriarchy, and I felt that an average teenage girl like me couldn’t really do much to change society. But now I feel like I have a voice. I can get my message across, and SPARK is providing that platform to me and so many other girls. I’m fighting against sexualization and sexism, and I’m doing this alongside the most amazing people ever. I’m surrounded by more than twenty awesome feminists who inspire me even though I’ve never met them in person.

My Facebook newsfeed is filled with a lot more awesomeness these days. John Green references and feminist posts flood my homepage. I think that SPARK has some of the coolest, most incredible girls ever.

Group chats are pretty awesome, too. The time difference between Pakistan and USA couldn’t keep me from joining in these discussions: I didn’t mind staying up till 4 in the morning to chat. The energy and positivity is contagious. I love how our Saturday chats are so casual and we can talk about anything from feminist literature to fashion to guys.

Our private Facebook group also doubles up as a support group. Being able to find sincere, supportive people is really hard, but now I have so many people who I can depend on for reassurance and support.  At times when I’m really, really down I can post my problems on the group page and expect two-dozen uplifting and comforting comments in just a couple of hours. My SPARK sisters always help me though whenever I need support. Especially since most people don’t really understand what feminism is about, it’s important to be able to talk to and vent out to people who can relate to you and don’t think you’re crazy for being a feminist.

I can’t pick just one person who I like the most. Everyone in this group is so incredibly beautiful and inspiring. Sadly, I haven’t met any of them in person—yet—but I can feel their positive energies and love. I’m already excited for the retreat in August when I can finally get to meet everyone. But for now, I just send virtual love out to my feminist family.

I’m so honored and grateful to be part of this team. I have more than twenty SPARK sisters. And I love all of them.