Monday, July 18, 2011

Get It, Girl!

It has been a week since Women and Leadership started. I cannot believe that it has gone by so quickly, but I also feel like the class has lasted an eternity. I will be sad to leave these girls at the end of the week - we have grown into a family.

At the beginning of class, we discussed the readings from the weekend. My group consisted of Caroline, Mariko, and Marilyn. We discussed sexual violence and the spread of HIV/AIDS, and then we talked about religion versus education in foreign countries. Caroline brought up a good point about how some women are much more religious than they are about their education.

After discussing the reading, Kisa noticed that everyone looked exhausted. The Starbucks that is close to campus is being renovated, so there will be no espresso shots this weeks! Fortunately, Au Bon Pain is across the street from that Starbucks, so people can get their coffee there. I do not drink coffee, but I noticed the effect it does have on my classmates. It definitely makes them more alert. To wake everyone up, we got in a circle and Kaylyn taught the whole group how to "Sizzle", a dance she learned at another leadership camp. It definitely energized everybody and lightened the mood.

Once our dancing session was over, Kisa broke us up into two groups, where we were to play a timeline game. We each got a slip of paper and on it was a note about government history or women's rights. When I saw this, I panicked. Government is a senior requirement, and women's rights only came up in terms of foreign countries in my AP World History class. The point of the exercise was to get into a line, from earliest date to latest date. Unfortunately, we had to figure out the dates for ourselves. It definitely made us think a lot, and we had to rush as well. In the end, the other team won, since they had gotten more of their dates correct. I was disappointed at first, but then I told myself not to be so hard on myself or my team. We simply did not know the correct dates. During lunch, I looked through my reader for the dates and started studying them for future reference.

The rest of class was rather relaxed. We went to the computer lab and worked more on our Action Plans and Amazing Woman Monologues.

After class, the ILC Brownies walked to the Brown bookstore to meet Ms. Williams so we could get our Brown sweatshirts! I was very excited to get a sweatshirt; it is a true momento of this experience.

Customized Monopoly!

After a couple of hours of working on homework, I walked to Soloman Hall for our workshop. We watched a film called Iron Jawed Angels, which takes place from 1912 to 1920. The film documents Alice Paul (Hilary Swank) and Lucy Burns journey with the National Women's Party and suffragist movement to pass the Nineteenth Amendment. I had watched the movie in my 8th grade Advanced United States History course, but I think I had a better perspective on the movie now. I enjoyed the film, and it gave me a new perspective on women's struggle. I admired how the women protested against President Wilson, but was stunned at the hunger strike Alice Paul went on when she and the other women in the NWP were confined to a mental asylum for "obstructing traffic" (when all they were doing was holding up signs urging women to get the right to vote on the PUBLIC SIDEWALK in front of the White House). I do not think I could ever go on a hunger strike, and it was disturbing when Alice was forced to eat raw eggs through a tube. I would definitely be traumatized after that event, but it was admirable how much these women went through to obtain the right to vote.

Monday Morning Blues

I’m glad I’m making the most out of every day of being here at Brown, but today just wasn’t as impressive as the rest of the days I’ve been here. To start off, I woke up to cloudy weather, a sure fire sign that it was going to rain today. I barely had time to eat breakfast before rushing off to class.

However, as expected, Kisa’s status was a good way to wake up. We discussed our interviews with our “amazing women” and found out that many of them gave the same advice, which is to follow your dream. Also, because our class is really diverse, there were long discussions about how one’s culture affected the way they or their family felt about women’s status in society. It turns out that, in my group, our parents were all from outside of the U.S. They were taught that women were second to men. However, upon entering the United States, these people opened their eyes to the possibility of a career-minded female. They then encouraged their daughters to strive for the highest education and stay ambitious.

After class, we met with Ms. Williams, who bought us all our Brown sweatshirts. Although mine was free, I spent an extra $60 dollars buying souvenirs for family and friends at home.

On the way back to the dorms from the sweater shopping, it began to rain. The only person who was prepared for the rain was Cynthia, whom we all laughed at earlier because she was the only one bringing an umbrella. I guess we spoke too soon!

At 7 PM, a film called “Iron Jawed Angels” starring Hilary Swank. This movie showed the struggles of Alice Paul, a feminist who strived for the right for women to vote. Upon being in jail, Alice Paul went on a hunger strike and was forced fed by the jail administrators. They didn’t want martyrdom in the jail that Alice wasn’t even supposed to be in because she didn’t do anything wrong. Because of her struggles and the media getting a hold of what’s been going on in the jail, the 19th Amendment was passed, which allowed women to vote.

The Things We Do For Friends

Today's class was mainly about our readings and discussing the status of women around the world. It was insane to see how differently women are viewed and depicted around the world and through different cultures.

However, there were some big similarities. In my small group we had a fusion of cultures, American, Chinese, Albanian, and Hispanic. We all agreed that women used to be expected to stay home and take care of the family. But now with more of a revolution occurring around women and society wanting women to get jobs and advance in them, it makes women who actually want to be stay at home moms of housewives feel uncomfortable. It makes them pressured into doing something that they don't want to do.

After discussing that, we realized that we don't want to force women to all go into high positions in competitive jobs. What we want to do is to make sure that women who do desire that have the opportunity and the means to do so successfully. Like I've said before, this shouldn't be about being more than men, it is just about equality.

After class at about 11:15PM (15 minutes before curfew), one of our close friends from class had a bad day and was really sad and she was incredibly upset and out of nowhere says "You know what would have been really good right now? A red Popsicle." Marlie (another girl from class) and I decide that we love the girl too much to let her be upset so we wind sprint to CVS, buy red Popsicles, and wind sprint back to our dorm before curfew. Our friend was overjoyed. This is how we decided to step up and become leaders. We decided that we all have a duty to take care of each other through the good times and the bad times. There is no doubt in my mind that they would've done the same for me had it been me that was unhappy. This is true commitment. For the thousandth time I will conclude with, I love these girls.


Study Hall and Alice Paul

I woke up this morning and immediately knew that it was going to be hot. This impression was only reinforced by Ms. Williams’s thoughtful text message reminding us to stay hydrated. I have been getting up later and later throughout the past week in a probably futile attempt to get more sleep. Therefore, I nearly missed breakfast, but managed to gulp down some pancakes and my daily grapefruit half before hurrying off to class. Don’t worry; promptness is too important for me to ever be late to class.

The bulk of our day today was taken up by study hall in a computer cluster in our building. We researched information for our Action Plan papers and our Amazing Women monologues. I am one of the lucky ones in that I don’t present until Wednesday, so I have a little more time. This allows me to spend more time on my other assignments as well. Throughout the study hall, we each had a one-on-one meeting with Kisa to discuss our Action Plans, much like the meeting with Laura and Tiffany yesterday.

Each time I interact with Kisa I like her more; she is always so open and supportive and encouraging. One of my favorite aspects of Summer@Brown is that all of the people here are so friendly and engaging. Everyone working here seems to genuinely want to be here, and it makes such a difference. From Kisa to Dean Robin Rose, Jen Madden, and Laura and Tiffany, our leadership fellows, all of the people who have helped us in class are amazing. They are intelligent and kind, and they really want to help you grow as much as you can and be the best you can be. It’s so inspiring… I want to be like them when I grow up! :)

This evening we had another workshop. Tiffany and Laura met us in a classroom in Solomon Hall for a movie night. I had sneaked a peek on our schedule, so I knew that we were watching “Iron Jawed Angels,” a movie about the women’s suffrage movement. I had seen this movie once before, in English class in the eighth grade. I remembered loving it and so I was pretty excited all day. The movie follows the struggles of Alice Paul, Lucy Burns, and the National Women’s Party as they attempt to pass the 19th Amendment.

There was some relatively shocking content in the film, including the imprisonment of about 200 women who picketed outside the White House during World War I. They were arrested and imprisoned on the bogus charge of “obstructing traffic.” The women went on hunger strikes while in prison, with Alice Paul leading the charge. Prison officials were so concerned about her role in leading the silent protests that she was put in solitary confinement in the psychiatric ward of the prison. Those in power who opposed Ms. Paul were afraid she would martyr herself by starving, so they force-fed her raw eggs by sticking a tube down her esophagus.

The film, although at times a little disgusting and often very sad, was pretty inspirational. I was really impressed with the dedication and passion that the suffragists had for their cause, and I hope that if I am ever tested like that, I can be as strong as they were.

Day 14: Back To School... Again

Today we started a wonderful Monday. I woke up from a deep sleep to my annoying alarm clock. I took a longer shower than normal, almost a half hour long. I think that is because I am not used to Mondays. I was half asleep all through breakfast. It isn't that I stayed up late; in fact i went to sleep around midnight.

We went to class where we discussed the reading that was assigned over the weekend. It was hard to remember all of it so we found ourselves going off on tangents multiple times. Then we played a painful memory game where we had to construct a timeline based on the reading. Then we went to the computer lab to research more for our project. I am glad they let us go because the internet at the dorms is low quality. During that time, we met with Kisa to go over our action plans. I had a good talk with her and she helped me out greatly. Kudos to Kisa!!

During lunch, I stopped at the dorms to get my FedEx box to ship back to California. On the way back, a friend and I got ice cream. The wind and rain got the best of us so we went inside early and worked on our amazing woman monologues. Then after we were finished working in the computer lab we went back and stood in (guess what?) another circle! We went around and said how we were going to be good leaders tonight. I told them that I would make all the optional things in life mandatory.

The ILC kids left to go straight to the bookstore to meet Ms. Williams. She bought our Brown hoodies. I, being the shopaholic I am, bought more souvenirs for my family. Then I (attempted) to do homework in the lounge but learned that it is impossible. The guys in th dorm across from us were throwing water bottles again but stopped shortly after when an R.A. came around. I spent the remaining time in Kaylyn's room blogging and doing homework.

When I called my mom to say goodnight and to update her about my day, I almost broke down in tears because I was so upset to realize that we only have four days left! Hopefully I'll run into Mackenzie in L.A. soon but the others live here on the east coast. It has never failed to surprise me how bonded we have become. I see these girls as my sisters and I will always love them!

Wake-Up Call

Today was literally a wake-up call to everyone. The entire class was struggling to stay awake during the first hour of class, which was probably a result of a long weekend and the fact that Starbucks is now closed for renovation. It was also a wakeup call because the majority of the class was focused on discussing and researching for our action plans and also for our Amazing Women Monologues. The time spent researching was definitely appreciated, and the one-on-one meetings with Kisa were extremely useful as well. It was both exciting and intimidating to see my action plan begin to form into something more solid.
After class, my cohort and I met Mrs. Williams at the Brown Bookstore, where she bought us all a Brown sweatshirt. Afterwards I went to “the Rock”, one of Brown’s libraries. I went to get a book on Alice Waters, who is my Amazing Woman, but discovered so much more. The resources seemed unlimited, and I wanted to check out almost every book that was there. I ended up studying in the library for the rest of the afternoon, which I discovered was a great alternative to the distracting dorm.
At seven we watched the movie “Iron Jawed Angels” with our class. The movie was about Alice Paul and the National Women’s Association. I have to admit that this was a topic I knew almost nothing about. I was shocked to learn about their picketing in front of the White House, and the resistance shown by President Woodrow Wilson and his administration. In school, all the history books had said was that the political system abroad (WWI) prevented Wilson from fixing many of the domestic issues, such as Women’s suffrage. What shocked me even more was that they were imprisoned for 60 days for “obstruction of traffic”, and how incredibly mistreated and abused they were at the prison. I was also shocked and horrified to learn about Alice Paul’s hunger strike, and then being force-fed raw eggs through a tube so that she wouldn’t be considered a martyr. The NWA’s continual fight even in the face of death was both inspiring and terrifying, but the final victory in form of the 19th Amendment proved that if you care and believe in a cause, anything is possible.

Empowering the Community

My action plan has been decided and I think it's very achievable. My goal is to create a supportive environment where diverse people (in terms of ethnicity, morals, ideas, etc.) coexist peacefully. The way I'm planning on doing it is going to be a surprise :)

Today was a very nice class session because I was able to get a lot of class/homework done. It was a work day (students worked on their Amazing Women Monologue) while the students had one-on-one meetings with Kisa. Kisa recommended some background research I should do and the T.A. Tiffany said she could send me some material she uses for us as well.

After the meeting as I was leaving, I realize that I want to take a few courses on ethnic studies. I tell Kisa that and thank her for teaching this course because in taking it, I decide on something I might be interested in studying.

The weather continues to be heavy, hot and sticky. I don't think I'll ever grow to like it. I can tolerate it a bit better now, but it still wont ever be able to compare to the beautiful California sunshine. We did, however, have a short period of rainfall. Thank goodness I had my umbrella on me. It really didn't help with the humidity though, haha.

After the end of class, the Brownie 7 went to the Brown Bookstore and met up with Ms. Williams! I'm always so happy to see her, she's amazing. We finally got our long-awaited Brown hoodies. Mine is the pink one and I'm thinking about doing something to it when I get home to make the letters stand out more :)

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