It has been so fun to celebrate the month of February. As we all know, it’s the season of St. Valentine, of love. There are so many kinds of love—romantic love, familial love, puppy love (love of your puppy), and then there is the GLI love. At camp we take time every day to spread the love by writing “love notes.” GLI love has nothing to do with what you look like, what you have, or wear, it’s about who you are and what you do. There is no better feeling than on the last day of camp when you dump out your love note envelope and read 45 notes describing why you are an amazing girl!
We hope you received your GLI valentine. The “love you” message is a little reminder that we love you, and we hope you love you. The love fest continues in this newsletter where one camper, Anya, describes what she is doing to raise funds for Haiti. Also, GLI alumna Maddie Alpert interviews Shelby Knox, and scholarship recipient Muriel Wilson interviews the musician, Marika, who chose to sponsor Muriel’s scholarship by donating a portion of her song sales to GLI.
We hope to see you soon!
Keep spreading the love,
Simone Marean & Julia Loonin
Spring Break Camp
Last year we discovered the magic of Day Camp and this year we are bringing it back and then some. Not only are we repeating our camp for girls in grades four and five Los Altos, CA, we added a grade six and opened a camp in Brooklyn with our partners the Young Women’s Leadership Network. Day Camp is the perfect mixture of vacation fun, new skills, and the best friendships that you could make in a week. In just a few short days the girls come together and give each the support to take healthy risks and grow. Highlights include love notes (see above), spontaneous dance parties, wild morning games, competitive keep-up, Poop Deck, Scavenger Hunt, and, of course, the water fight of a lifetime.
Learn more and reserve your spot today. Space is limited. Donate to the Brooklyn Day Camp to help 30 underserved girls who otherwise would have nothing to do during school break.
Muriel and Marika
Last week Muriel, GLI alumna and junior in high school from Queens NY, interviewed Canadian singer song writer Marika. Marika is currently donating 10% of her sales from her song Wherever You Are to the GLI’s scholarship fund.
Listen to Wherever You Are and download it to help Muriel return to GLI next summer.
Muriel: What made you decide to become a singer? Did anyone in particular inspire you?
Marika: I wanted to be a singer since she was a kid. I was inspired by Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson.
Muriel: What age were you when you began singing?
Marika: I have been singing all my life. I sang in choir when I was 14 and began singing professionally when I was 17.
Muriel: What your favorite part of your profession? What is your least favorite part?
Marika: My favorite part is getting letters from fans and meeting new people. I also love performing live. My least favorite part of my profession is being in the studio and struggling to be myself versus what the public and media wants me to be.
Muriel: Where does the inspiration for your songs come from?
Marika: My inspiration comes from my life experiences and from what I see around me.
Muriel: Why did you choose to donate some of the profit from the sale of your song to GLI?
Marika: I love working with teen girls and girls in general. Most of all, I love seeing girls succeed and reach their goals, dreams and desires. I also run a program where I give young aspiring singers the opportunity to record in my studio.
Twelfth Grader Maddie Alpert Interviews GLI Activist in Residence Shelby Knox:
Some major snappage is in order for GLI’s very own activist-in-residence, Shelby Knox. Each year, the NYC chapter of the National Organization for Women honors several amazing grassroots activists who are making strides to improve the lives of women with their Susan B. Anthony award. This year, Shelby is one of their stellar honorees and accepted her award on February 19th. Shelby is probably best known as the plucky teenage activist featured in The Education of Shelby Knox, a documentary chronicling her fight to bring comprehensive sex education into her conservative Texas school district. Since then, Shelby has devoted herself fully to feminist activism. She is a nationally recognized speaker and organizer working with many other organizations, including GLI, to empower girls and women. Last year, she joined the GLI family as director of Sophomore Summer, where girls learn to be change-makers in their own communities. I got to check in with Shelby about her activism, the award and year two of Sophomore Summer. Check out her inspiring answers:
Maddie: What have you been up to this year? What are the main projects you’re working on?
Shelby: My biggest project is a book on my generation’s expression and experience of feminism. I’m in the process of interviewing women across the country about what it’s like to be a young woman today. I also just helped the Women’s Media Center run a campaign to get CBS to pull a controversial ad during the Super Bowl
MA: What does your day-to-day schedule look like as a full time feminist activist?
SK: If only I had a regular schedule! If I’m in New York, I work out of my apartment, answering emails, working on blog posts and upcoming speeches, and whatever consulting work has an impending deadline. I travel – to high schools, colleges, conferences – about 15 days out of the month to speak about sex education and feminism and help other young people organize in their communities.
MA: Being an activist requires a LOT of self direction. In a lot of ways, you have to be your own boss. How do you keep up motivation and stay goal oriented?
SK: I never have a motivation problem. It’s more like I want to do everything and I WANT TO DO IT RIGHT NOW. I’m working on setting clear goals and meeting them, not taking on any more large projects, and figuring out how to say “no” to things that are worthy and wonderful but I simply don’t have time to do.
MA: Your job involves a lot of public speaking. Has that always come naturally? Do you even get nervous anymore? If so, what strategies do you have for dealing with the pre-speech jitters?
SK: I started taking voice lessons and performing in front of audiences at a very young age, so speaking in front of people sort of came naturally. I still get nervous before every single speech but it almost always goes away as soon as I take the stage. I think for me the nerves are a reminder that even though I’ve given some version of that speech a thousand times before, the audience has never heard it and there’s such potential for making an impact and starting a conversation. As soon as I stop getting nervous, I’ll have to wonder if I’m doing my job as a speaker anymore.
MA: What do you see as the most important lessons you’ve learned about activism since you began the fight for comprehensive sex education in high school?
SK: Activist movements aren’t about rallies or press hits or legislation or even winning or losing a particular battle – they’re about people. I’ve learned that the most important thing about speaking my truth is that it’s without a doubt another person’s truth as well, and hearing my voice can help those people find the courage to speak. When lots of people speak from their lived experience, with purpose and in unison, success is virtually guaranteed.
MA: Your Twitter page is impressive. You update it so often and your posts are really thought provoking and substantial. Why are you such a fan of social media? Any downsides?
SK: I’m probably too much of a fan of social media – the downside is it takes up a lot of time and energy. But I love it because it’s a way for people to connect instantaneously, to share their stories and their knowledge, and come in contact with perspectives they’ve never considered before. Twitter is a very practical network for an organizer – I have Tweeps in cities across the country who I can call to attend events or write op-eds in their local newspaper or hang out with me in between events.
MA: How psyched are you for this summer?! What did you learn from your experience last summer at GLI? Favorite GLI moment?
SK: I’M SO EXCITED!! Last summer was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I thought I was going to GLI to teach – I didn’t realize I would have the much more valuable experience of being a student to 40 amazing girls. I think my favorite GLI moments were the two big circles on opening and closing night. It’s stunning to see how much everyone, including the staff, has become more real and honest during camp.
MA: Where do you hope to see your career going from here?
SK: I consider myself one of the luckiest people in the world – at 23, I’m following the pull of my heart and soul and have been lucky enough to find a way to get paid to do it. I want to represent young women where we’re usually invisible – in the mainstream media, on the bestseller list, and in the social media sphere, which is still dominated by older white men.
MA: What didja wear to the ceremony?
SK: I wore a black dress with a red and black cape and red heels. I also wore my grandmother’s gold chain with an onyx pendant Gloria Steinem gave me as a tribute and reminder of my place in the history of amazing women who change the world by unapologetically living their lives.
Princess Tiana—Real Girl or Perfect Girl? by Lauren Herold
Last week my mom, my little sister, and I went to see the latest Disney movie (the first to feature a black protagonist), The Princess and the Frog. As a feminist wary of the whole Disney Princess “some day my prince will come” thing, I didn’t get my hopes up and was prepared to leave the theater mildly annoyed at best and angry and offended at worst. Read more..
Anya, age 11, is going for her Ph.D in GLI. Having taken our Real Parents, Real Daughters Workshop, Spring Break Day Camp, and Club Real Girl, Anya is now gearing up for her first overnight camp at GLI this summer! Anya was inspired by a school project to use her creative skills to help victims of the Haiti earthquake.
We’ll let her tell you about it:
In sixth grade at my school we are doing a Knighting Ceremony. For this, each kid in the class has to come up with three tasks and complete them: a family task, a self-task, and a community task. For my community task I am raising money for the people of Haiti by selling my handmade earrings. I have named my fund raising project Hearts4Haiti. It has number four in it because the price of my earrings is $4 a pair. 100% of the proceeds go directly to Haitians through American Jewish World Services, who are helping Haiti right now.
Earrings are available for purchase on the web at http://www.anyashearts4haiti.etsy.com
Please join me in being a heart for Haiti.