Last friday was the premier of GIRL EMPOWER sessions, a movement which I hope will be sweeping elementary, middle, and high schools all over Jackson, Mississippi. The classroom was brimming with thirty energetic, third grade girls. We started with a simple question:
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
“A doctor!” “A fashion designer!” “A lawyer!” “A veterinarian!”
I wrote these dreams on the board and had trouble keeping up! What a wonderful feeling listing to the abounding plans of these nine year olds….
In preparation for this program I met with several local teachers to hear about the needs of the girls in their class. The need was clear: girls tear other girls down. I wanted to stress to these girls that there is value in empowering and uplifting one another; when we do that we all succeed. So, we discussed methods of empowerment and how through encouragement we can reach our dreams together. The girls brought up how they have been put down in the past, and then put empowerment in to practice by writing anonymous notes of encouragement.
I asked the students, “How will you achieve your dreams?” They answered in a unanimous, “WE WILL GRADUATE!”
Then I said, “Did you know that there are millions of girls in the world who can’t go to school?”
Yes, it is. Global inequality is CRA-ZY, and we have a communal call to take action.
I explained some of the reasons that girls have a difficult time going to school in the developing world, and promptly learned that breaching the subject of global inequality is difficult. To help teach a global perspective we all went on a little trip. Well, we all pretended we had plane tickets then zoomed around the classroom for a solid minute (P.S. it was really cute.). The teacher picked two students to play girls in the developing world, and I dressed them up accordingly- a sari for “Awon” from India and a Palestinian shirt for “Radia.” When we “arrived” in these countries, our world traveling girls read from scripts that explained what their average day looked like. They were in third grade just like these girls, but had to walk to school for two hours each day and are the first to learn to read in their families.
After hearing about the status of girls in other parts of the world, these third graders were moved to action. They wanted to help. . I can’t wait to see what these girls do. Updates on this third grade classroom coming soon…