Well, our summer session is officially over and the time has come to hang up our shields and send my Girls’ LEAP shirts to the bottom of my t-shirt pile. This whirlwind and inspirational experience has left me with so much joy and so much yet to process. In all honesty, the summer was really challenging. The work was tough, the students were not always excited to be in our program and the stereotypical truths about females played out before my very own eyes. Some girls were especially timid and anxious while others could only discuss their physical attractiveness and viewed their outer beauty as their most important asset. I believe one of the most difficult parts was learning to practice what I preach. How do I take up space? How do I assert my boundaries and care and love myself better? These are very real questions that I have yet to process.
While this experience reinforced my preconceived notions that teaching is hard, it also showed me how rewarding an educator role can be. I know for a fact that my words and actions had a very real and positive impact on specific girls. One in particular mentioned how I “opened her mind and motivated her to step beyond her comfort zone.” Little statements like this made me feel like I really contributed to a positive and strong female culture. Also, I now feel more comfortable facilitating discussions about challenging topics, such as conflict resolution and sexual harassment. I recognize the value of being physically active, that children’s bodies were made to move and engage with the world. I believe the organization gave me a powerful cohort of women to learn with and from. I particularly enjoyed our weekly meetings that focused on professional and personal development. I was certainly frustrated by some aspects of the organization. I wish that it was more efficient and better organized and that despite working in the field, away from the office, I would have been more in the loop about Girls’ LEAP events. I recognize that this is a challenge in any organization that is struggling financially and the experience has actually inspired me to learn more about business and marketing/financial practices. I so strongly believe in the cause and I would love to see this organization expand and grow qualitatively and qualitatively (serve a larger population).
It is challenging to sum up my experiences in one word. But, as we end each of our sessions with a Girls’ LEAP is… “fill in the blank” I will complete this post with a Girls’ LEAP is… exhilarating.