I am getting closer to the end of my studies here, but yet it feels like I am only just beginning. If I was asked last year in the early spring if I saw myself dedicating a whole year to studying education as a class, I would have thought that couldn’t be me. I had the same ambition to be a teacher, but never thought I could start the journey this early. Here I am however, in April, and have worked in sixth, seventh, eighth, and now fifth grade.
I have spent roughly 45% of my time towards this project transcribing interviews….It is one of the hardest and most tedious tasks, especially if your interviews typically run between 30 – 60 minutes. I considered, for a moment, just simply sending my interviewees a list of questions I would like them to answer and having it be simpler
But I quickly shrugged the idea of because of one thing:
Tangents have become the core of my content when I am writing articles. When my interviewees go off on tangents, they are almost always something they are passionate about, or it is story worthwhile. You cannot capture these tangents by sending them a list of questions.
It is through these tangents that I begin to understand someone’s work and passions, and I learn who they are to their core. I get to see them and understand them and relate to them and have a conversation with them.
And though transcribing is…..interesting
a living, breathing hell. Without face to face interviews, my content would not be nearly as rich or as vibrant as it is, and it is all thanks to tangents.
Before I wrap up, I just wanted to give you all some updates:
- Our social media pages are up! You can follow us on Instagram @Project_G.I.R.L and on the Facebook page Project G.I.R.L!
- WE LAUNCH MAY 2ND!
- We are on track for our goals, including having our website be 75% completed
- We have created an email as well (firstname.lastname@example.org)!
- We have met with Westtown Communications (I had a meeting with Anne Burns today) and they have agreed to give us press after our launch
- On our current team, we have a transcriber, a web designer, a digital artist, and I am currently on a hunt for a social media manager and an editor
- We are scheduled to have 5 interviews this week!
- I am remembering to breathe, despite the fact that I am simultaneously elated and panicking
Inspired by putting one foot in front of the other
CEO and Foudner of project G.I.R.L
I’m so excited to say that I’ve finally reached the next big step in my research project: transitioning from gathering basic information on the topic to measuring just how prominent the issue of social aggression is in our own community. Because this is the starting point to the actual ‘action-based’ portion of the research plan I initially created, I’m more curious than ever to know just where this feedback will take me next. As much as I enjoy reading and writing and reflecting on pieces I’ve read, my true passion consists of seeing a data pool and being able to come to my own conclusions in order to change the place around me for the better. After carefully crafting and selecting questions for my survey for weeks, I finally seem to have a (pretty) final draft that will be sent out to the student body in the next week or so, hopefully. Although I am slightly anxious to see where this goes, and the majority opinion of my peers, I know whatever data I end up with will be able to be put to good use. One of the goals of the survey was to measure the commonality of specific behaviors related to social aggression so that we will be able to target the most prominent issues at hand at our school. If all goes according to plan, I will be able to start my one-on-one conversations by the end of the month.
But in the meantime, here is a portion of the survey that I will be reflecting on and taking action with in the future:
Please rate the frequency of these socially aggressive behaviors based on your experience/observation at Westtown. (5 point scale of always, often, sometimes, rarely, and never.)
leaving someone out on purpose
telling someone that they are not wanted in a group
telling others to exclude a certain person from an activity or group
ignoring a person or walking away when a person attempts to join an activity or group
telling others that they don’t understand why they are friends with a particular person
telling others negative things about a particular person in order to hurt that person’s relationships or reputation
embarrassing another person in public or online
spreading rumors, known to be false, about a particular person
belittling another person due to their identity (gender, race, sexual orientation)
treating a younger person as inferior due to their age/grade level
Please respond to these questions through your own words:
What changes would you recommend at Westtown to create a more positive and inclusive culture?
What ideas do you have to help students better support each other?
Are there any examples of social aggression that you would like to share, including how it has affected you or others?
For my project, the accomplishments have been minor so far. I have been sitting in on eighth grade classrooms and observing the nature of the class and interactions between teacher and student. I have stepped in a few times to give input to students on how their work is.
In the future, I will be finding time to go into lower school, primarily fourth and fifth grade to do what I have been doing which is observing and helping out with certain assignments and activities. Also, with eighth grade, I will be attempting to lead discussions in the book they’re reading.
I don’t see any adjustments there need to be to achieve my goal, because my goal is to gain the experience of being in the classroom and what the roll of being a teacher is like.
Have you ever noticed how many girls and women, when complimented, will immediately deny it or deflect it back to the other person? It often looks something like this:
“Your hair looks so good today!”
“Ugh, are you kidding? It’s so flat. I wish mine looked more like yours…”
I think many people can admit to using this tactic. I hadn’t even realized the commonality of it until just recently when I overheard a couple of girls in the bathroom at school. Initially, their tones could have been mistaken for an argument; they were bantering back and forth while simultaneously inspecting their own bodies and faces in the mirror. As I took a closer listen to their conversation, I realized they were talking back and forth about who looked worse that day. They weren’t claiming that they looked better than the other, but the opposite. It was as if they were partaking in a competition of inferiority and self-hate. After reflecting on it for a bit, I wondered why girls believe that in order to bond with one another or build each other up, they must first tear themselves down.
Responding to compliments can be tricky and even awkward. We can all agree to that. But in the situation of a girl receiving a compliment, it is very difficult for her to respond in a way that will resinate positively with everyone. If she responds by denying the compliment or deflecting it back onto the other, she may often be perceived as though she is fishing for more compliments from the other person, or an ‘attention seeker’. If the response goes the other way, and she responds with a smile and a ‘thank you’, an acknowledgement that she agrees with them, she runs the risk of being called conceited or overly confident. This is one of the many times in which girls just cannot win; they are constantly bombarded with contradicting messages of how they should act in a society. Where does this complicated situation originate?
It may be possible that this negative self talk is just another repercussion caused from an overly critical society. It’s a historical fact that women who make the choice to carry themselves confidently and acknowledge their own success or positive qualities have been tormented by a patriarchal society, fueled by intimidation and insecurity. Not only have men been known to fear a woman who does not carry herself like she is inferior to him, but for centuries, women have attempted to tear down the one at the top, due to jealousy of escaping the social norm of being silenced and modest. Women are simply held to higher standards by society; Pew Research Center states that 50% of people believe that women’s higher expectations in the work field is considered one of the major barriers for women’s success (Pew Social Trends: Obstacles to Female Leadership). Self confident women have been feared and hated forever possibly due to the fact that they refuse to carry out the expectations set onto them by others, either in a work or social setting. It is human nature for girls and women to feel as though it is their responsibility to prove that they are the self-critical, modest beings that society has so long told us we have to be to prevent being targeted.
What’s so flawed about this system is that it is promoting the vicious cycle of inequality for women. On the surface, this game of who-can-pity-herself-more may seem completely harmless. It even may boost the ego of the other person involved who is hearing her compliments being dished right back towards her. However, every time we make even a small comment laced with self hate, we are doing a disservice to woman as a whole. If all of us continue to encompass a mindset that we will be unable to bond with others or succeed without first cutting ourselves down, we will be taking two steps back for every step forward.
So instead of giving in to this toxic urge to shame, hate, and compare ourselves to others, try looking at it from another perspective: ask yourself, why do I feel the need to criticize myself right now? Who is this benefiting? Once we realize that comparing and competing with others over qualities that we should be celebrating is not bringing women together, but instead supporting a longstanding patriarch in which women are unable to embrace their true greatness, we will be taking one step closer to breaking the system. So next time you hear a compliment, resist that urge to deny it. We are beautiful, and we all deserve to be able to embrace that.
– Liv, 3/7
“Chapter 3: Obstacles to Female Leadership.” Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends Project, 14 Jan. 2015, http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2015/01/14/chapter-3-obstacles-to-female-leadership/.
This week was busy in both the lives of the students and the teachers. I noticed that everyone was rather stressed with the presentations of 8th grade’s work. However, I also noticed that within all this stress, there was a sort of ease that the students used to keep themselves focused on their work. Continue reading
This week, I furthered my research on the science behind the Creation of Patriarchy, and continued to take notes and conduct a summary. I also finished reading about the story of Helen of Troy, who is to be my Greek female “leader.” Though her physical being was not essentially real, her message still was. In Greek Mythology, as well as in Ancient Mythology, for that matter, women played an extremely important role. Religion was, arguably, the pinnacle of life for nearly everyone in Ancient times. The religion and the myths were explanations of the way things worked, like Ra from Ancient Egypt Mythology pulling the sun up every morning. I am almost done developing my “family” tree for Mythological Greek Gods, but as I go on, I find the process being slowed because I am so fascinated by what I find. Every time that I write one person’s name down after researching them, such as Ares, and I get busy looking at the next God/Goddess affiliated with them. Continue reading
Throughout this semester, I have continued to build the infrastructure of my organization – which manifests in multiple ways.
First, I have been working meticulously to clarify and focus the organization’s message and mission statement. I want my organization to be laser focused and understood by at a glance from the general public. After a few more revisions, new pages on my website with a Theory of Change, updated mission, and supporting information will be uploaded.
Networking and partnerships have also played a large role in this semester. I worked to secure my first endorsement for my legislation and first official partner. I have also been reaching out to various people in the field and introducing myself. I want to build as many relationships and coalitions as possible.
Media coverage and digital momentum has been another area of focus. I already secured multiple articles through reaching out to journalists with more yet to be published (the biggest and most exciting from VICE). Many of these articles focused on my story because it is unique that I am in high school, yet still pursuing this work. Part of what drives media attention is my story, so that’s why I’ve also been building my own branding. I cleaned up my online presence and expanded my digital horizons.
This is just a sample of my Semester work. So far I have had a very successful and productive start to the Independent Seminar and I look forward to the rest of the year.
Sex education needs serious renovations – dare I say an overhaul. We are failing to teach students how to keep their bodies happy, healthy, and safe. Here are four reasons why sex education is failing students in Pennsylvania and across the nation: Continue reading
On October 2nd 2017 a Q&A about the work I’ve been doing was posed on Vice News. It was later added to their national snapchat story. It’s hard to say how many people saw the article but this was national coverage which means a TON of people saw it all across the country and perhaps the world.
Let’s look at the numbers we do have:
We can use Facebook’s article tracking feature to see how many times it was simply shared on the popular social media site. In the past two weeks it has been shared by nearly 2,000 people and popular pages.
I don’t have any way to quantify any other post-based social media websites like twitter, but this gives an audience rage on one.
We can however extract a few numbers from Snapchat’s stories. Vice News is one of the most popular snapchat stories, and while the app does not release official viewership counts, NBC released their own count earlier this year.
Read more: Quakerism’s Influence on my Activism – KC
According to Variety, the multi-media giant garnered a whopping 29 million views in the first month of starting their new snapchat story. While this number is probably inflated because of first month promotion, it allows us to see the amount of people who are tuning into a specific story – a new one at that.
It is safe to say that over a hundred thousand people saw the story on Vice. We don’t have any way of quantifying the number of people who then chose to read the article, but they were all able to see this video:
So why do these numbers matter? It’s simple, good press is one of the most crucial parts of any organization or movement. Over the past two weeks since my article dropped, my mailbox has been flooded with new people wanting to get involved. Leading activist in my field have begun reaching out to partner.
Read more: Timing is an Art Form – KC
I’m really excited about working with these people and continuing to build my organization. To those trying to build something new, I suggest you start working on news coverage. Reach out to local reporters or people who frequently write about related topics. Start sending press-releases when new things happen inside your organization.
These kinds of articles will help propel your message and build a wider audience.