Tuesday, July 19, 2011

"Never Begin Your Thought With Doubt Because People Will Doubt You" - Wendy Schiller

I started off today breaking out in sweat. I had heard some of the girls talking about how this week was going to be "killer hot", but since it rained yesterday, I didn't believe them. Oh, how I was wrong! Today was sweltering hot. I groaned, got up, and started my day.

The morning didn't go by so smoothly at first. After getting breakfast at the Ratty, I turned down the wrong street and ended up lost! After going around in circles for twenty minutes, a passerby gave me directions to Thayer Street and I made it to class with two minutes to spare. I believe I expressed leadership by asking for help instead of assuming I could make it to the classroom myself.

Today we began our Amazing Woman Monologues. This is who went in the morning and who they were:

  • Rebecca - Hatshepsut 
  • Josephine - Pocahontas 
  • Marilyn - Harriet Tubman
  • Refjola - Mother Teresa 
  • Cynthia Z. - Rosa Parks 
  • Marlie - Fannie Lou Hammer 

I learned so much from these girls' performances. I think that having the monologues was a great way to practice public speaking and gain confidence in front of our peers.

After the morning session, Kisa asked if someone wanted to facilitate, which is an activity we have recently been doing. The facilitator stands in front of everyone and asks them questions about the readings. I shot my hand up and Kisa chose me! I was excited to be expressing this leadership skill.

I asked the girls questions such as: "How do you feel about having men in [the] ropes course, workforce, and this class?" Many girls said that they felt like having the men around would be awkward, uncomfortable, and that the men would try to be dominant. However, Caroline made a good point of stating that it is good to have a balance of estrogen and testosterone because all-women's workforces can get "catty/petty" really easily. There is no in-between when it comes to working only with women - it is either good or bad, nothing else. Maddie gave a good testimony about how the men in her mom's workforce were unsympathetic when she had her brother.

Once I was done, I felt very good about my public speaking. I realized that I wasn't even nervous about speaking up anymore. It was a wonderful feeling.

After that, we got a special treat: a visit from Wendy Schiller, a professor of public policy and political science at Brown. She graduated from the University of Rochester with a PhD and is a well known author.

Wendy explained to us how politics was very big in her family and was also a form of communication. It was decided where she would attend college by a debate between her two brothers. It was decided that she would go to the University of Chicago, but was allowed to transfer to the University of Virgina if she pleased. Wendy noted that she thought it was unfair for her brothers to debate in front of her father about her college decision.

Wendy also provided us information about women's roles in the senate. There were no female bathrooms on the senate chamber and women could not wear pants in the senate house. Women are under more pressure than men to look articulate, dress properly, and be feminist - but not too feminist.
Women are also more prone to having sexual rumors spread about them in political competitions, a saddening factor, Wendy noted.

The talk with Wendy was absolutely wonderful. I was honored to meet her, and she gave me a new perspective on politics. I'll definitely be paying a lot of attention during the 2012 presidential election.

After lunch, we continued the Amazing Woman Monologues with monologues from:

  • Olivia - Rosalind Franklin
  • Mackenzie - Maya Angelou
  • Kaylyn - Jane Goodall 
  • Alli - Aung San Suu Kyi 
  • Caroline - Alice Waters 
We then watched a clip called "Teen Sexual Harassment at Work" - the minute I saw the title, I shuddered. I have never experienced this but I have definitely read stories in magazines and newspapers about girls who get sexually harassed at work. The clip was about a teenage girl named Ali, who got her first job at Jamba Juice in Washington. She thought it would be a fun first job, but her manager made her feel very uncomfortable. He would touch employees inapropriately, such as getting too close to the female employee's backs and putting his arm around them.

The manager started making inappropriate comments to Ali such as jokes about touching her breasts and sex. He even went as far to show her an inappropriate picture of his wife. Ali was scared to tell her parents because she did not want to "give up her first job." However, the situation got much more inappropriate later on.

Ali was in the back of the store counting out the cash when her manager got very close behind her and ripped her shirt off. He then proceeded to take a picture of her chest with his cell phone. Ali began crying and became very upset, and her fellow employees were no help, as they stood and laughed at the incident. Ali quit and finally told her parents what had been going on. Her mom revealed in an on-camera interview that the incident made her very upset and that these were the types of things she had "tried to protect her child from." The assistant manager of the Jamba Juice found out about the incident and told Ali that the manager had broken Jamba Juice rules and would be fired. However, he actually wasn't fired - so Ali stayed put and did not return to the job.

I was so stunned that the employees saw this incident and did not intervene. While many of the girls chastised Ali for not admitting the truth to her parents early on, I understood why she didn't: she was afraid of the consequences. I believe that she was afraid of what the manager could do if he was reported. I think a lot of teenage girls go through harassment, sexual or not, and that they are scared to tell the truth because they are fearful of others' reactions and the consequences to telling the truth.

After watching the clip, a student panel arrived and gave us several pieces of information about the college admission process, their experiences at Brown, and reaction to college life in general:

  • Samantha DeAndrade is an undergraduate student at Brown. She is majoring in International Relations and is Pre-Med. She is planning an exciting new school year - she will be studying abroad in London! She participates in field hockey and writing for the campus magazine "[The] African Sun." She has an interest in developing countries. At first, she was very intimidated by her classmates at Brown, partly due to being a woman and feeling like she always had to raise her hand in class to get a "woman's perspective" into the classroom. She also gives tours for Brown Mondays through Fridays.
  • Briana McGeough is an undergraduate student at Brown. She is majoring in Sociology and Gender Studies and is a Summer@Brown RA. She is currently conducting research on socio-economic status and is interested in making students feel more comfortable at school. When she was in high school in Iowa, some of her friends went through intense bullying due to being gay. Based on the experience, she became a strong supporter of LGBTQ rights. When she got to Brown, she felt intimidated due to her low socio-economic status and the fact that she was surrounded by privileged students in the classrooms.
  • Felicia Salings is a graduate student at Brown. She was a Creative Arts major at San Jose State University and is obtaining her PhD in American Studies from Brown. She works on Latina American literature and studies media such as "Sex and the City" and "Bridget Jones' Diary." She works with Kisa in the student activities center. She admitted that getting out of her comfort zone and starting anew was hard for her.
  • Jasmine Bouknight is a medical student at Brown Medical School. She studied biotechnology and sports medicine. She is a fourth year medical student and hopes to go to the West Coast due to warmer weather. She admitted she had to deal with a culture shock at Brown, dealing with ethnicity, culture, language, etc.
From left to right: Kisa, Jasmine, Briana, Felicia, and Samantha
I enjoyed the student panel. I was glad they gave testimonies about their experiences at Brown.

Later in the evening, the Brownies headed to a Chinese and Japanese food restaurant called Shang Hai for Mariko's sixteenth birthday. We had a lovely evening filled with sushi, chicken wings, broccoli beef, and ramen soup. It made us all realize that we only have three days left in lovely Providence. The experience has been bittersweet. I have made 8 sisters (my girls and Ms. Williams) and I will never forget this experience. We passed notes around the table and wrote something positive about each other. Here is what I got:

  • Determined
  • Strong-minded
  • Motivational
  • Always on time - punctual 
  • Very articulate. You're a determined student
  • Very determined and strong 
  • Funny 
I was happy with all the positive feedback. I feel like we have all bonded so much on this trip.

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