The last day of my first week at Brown passed just as quickly as all the other days have. In class today, we split into groups and had a long discussion on gender roles in society. On a poster, each group drew a box; inside the box was the "Act like a lady" section, where we put words and adjectives that describe a girl who acts "ladylike." Outside we wrote words that label people who don't conform to this behavior, and words to describe what happens to these people in society. We did the same thing on a different poster for males, where "Man up" was in the middle. This activity and the related discussion brought up lots of ideas of how people of certain genders are supposed to conform to society's standards, and how they often get isolated, teased, or bullied if they don't. I thought this exercise was a good way to make our class more aware of just how much pressure everyone in society is under to act in a way that is appropriate to their gender.
We also talked as a class about our experiences growing up, and whether each of us individually had ever felt the pressure to act like a girl (or in Mukund's case, to act like a boy). Many people have felt this within their families, but I don't personally feel like I have felt that pressure, which makes me extremely grateful for the family that I have.
We had two guest speakers today: Suzy Alba and a girl named Selena, who was in Kisa's class last year. Suzy works at Brown currently and lives in Rhode Island, and she is running for political office in Rhode Island this year. She talked with us for half an hour about her experience as a woman leader and where her motivation to lead came from. She grew up being very independent, and had to educate herself in many ways because her mom was not always around to help her - this influenced her in many ways as she got older and became a passionate leader.
Selena talked to us about her action plan, which involves providing support for girls who may not have stable homes. She told us that it's really important to passionate about your plan and motivated to do it. She based her own idea off of her passion to stop human trafficking, and has been able to follow through because she is motivated. Motivation and passion seems to be a big key to becoming a leader and following through with action plans.
This week has flown by, and I know that next week will pass just as swiftly, what with all the activities that are planned. I am so excited to be here and grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this wonderful summer program at Brown.