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How can we inspire more girls of color to get involved in politics?  



Girl Represent

The Girl Represent workshop is designed to help middle school girls of color find ways they can be change makers in their communities. In order to promote local role models, the girls go through a series of brainstorming activities with local women of color who are involved in civic leadership.


Role

I designed, organized, and facilitated the workshops myself with the assistance of several advisors including Gary Chou, Christina Xu, Ruth Ann Harnisch, Kristine LaLonde, Shirley Yee, and many others along the way.

In April of 2017 I ran a successful kickstarter campaign and recieved a grant from the Awesome Foundation to conduct workshops in Nashville, Washington DC, and Denver.



Approach

As a middle school student I was asked to write an essay about a civic leader I admired. As an Asian-American female I wanted to write about a leader who looked like me, but at the time it was really difficult to find women who met that description. After the 2016 election I wanted to find ways to inspire more women of color to get involved in civic leadership. There were already many organizations catering to women interested in running for office, but not as many looking to encourage the leaders of the future. I believe if you can see it and say it, you can be it. That's what the Girl Represent workshops are all about.  

Research

Unofficially, my research started at the Women’s March the day after the election. Following the march, I listened to a lot of interviews with women of color in politics and then set out to talk to parents of girls, women who had started mentorship programs, women who work for organizaitons I admire, and even a friend of mine who is a children's book illustrator.

Through our conversations I learned:

  • Middle school is an ideal time to work with girls. It's a time when girls are begining to understand how they fit into the world as individuals. They still have the confidence and curiosity of youth and are learning the realism that comes with age. It isn't too early or too late.
  • Despite the above, most youth programs focus on high school students.  
  • It can be difficult for both students and adults to understand how they can use their skills and strengths to make a difference. We often think of our skills, interests, and strengths as separate from our ability to make an impact.
  • Whether it was an African-American actress on TV or an Asian-American lawyer, girls often had break through moments when they saw someone who looked like them doing a job that was empowering.

Synthesis & Ideation

In March I attended a LEAP workshop lead by the Expeirence Institute. That workshop model really helped focus my various ideas into a singular experience. The Girls Driving For A Difference project out of Stanford also inspired the model I decided to follow. After conducting interviews and bouncing ideas off of peers and advisors I put together a draft for Kickstarter and a workshop outline.


Partnerships & Kickstarter




One of the biggest lessons I learned during this process was just how invaluable partnerships and finding ways for people to get involved can be. With support from Southern Word and the Oasis Center in Nashville, from friends and family, and the Awesome Foundation I was about to raise enough funds to organize three workshops. Those workshops were made possible by these awesome partners.



 

Facilitaiton & Training

For each workshop I had to organize and update curriculum, reach out to amazing women of color in the community to get them involved, and find a co-facilitator. To train co-facilitators I held a work shop run-through so they could understand what it feels like to be a participant and walk into the workshop with confidence.

Through all of the workshops it was really fun to see the problems they identified, the topics they were interested in, and how they were able to connect those to their strengths and skillsets. The girls walked away with a purpose statement and tangible actions they could do like finding plays to act in or produce that talked about gender equality, organizing their friends to promote healthy eating in food deserts, and creating support groups for their friends struggling with depression.

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