Congratulations to the Class of June 2016 for completing One Girl’s first Leadership Retreat! During a weekend in June, young women gathered in the Upper East Side to learn about activism, share stories, and break bread. This therapeutic and empowering event was undoubtedly crucial towards engaging women in public action. I happened to be one of those women.
While meeting the group of folks with whom I would spend my weekend was unnerving at first, we quite literally coalesced into a circle of sisters ready to learn about ourselves and each other. Sitting on the floor surrounded by each other created an equalizing factor - a means of seeing each other eye-to-eye. A safe space indeed, we introduced ourselves by honoring each other’s gender pronouns. We set some guidelines too, such as keeping the discussion confidential. As if the cushions and blankets were not comfortable enough, I felt even more secure in the One Girl space.
Reading along with the training packet never made me feel like a student in a classroom, either. Each person had the choice to read a section of the stories, definitions, and excerpts, creating an equal opportunity to share our voices. We did not have a lecture on the different types of activism and how to be nonviolent; rather, we engaged in dialogue by sharing our personal experiences.
Sharing those stories came with emotional baggage, but of course, sharing was not made mandatory. I recall feeling how divulging parts of my life to a group of folks I only knew for a few hours seemed unnatural and invasive. After all, how could I air out my most vulnerable parts to a group I had only recently met? But after hearing other folks in the room, I felt compelled to let my story be heard as well. Speaking my struggle happened to be the cleansing and healing experience I did not know I needed.
The room felt heavy. While the pain was apparent, the surprising similarities in our stories made the pain more bearable; more so with Meaghan Barakett (One Girl Founder) leading the yoga and meditation. The techniques helped me ease my breathing and release the tension of revisiting trauma. My first time experiencing yoga was facilitated by her professional direction, with her reminding us to “do whatever is comfortable.” While my first downward-facing dog was no easy feat and I struggled to feel “grounded” and calm, there is of course a first time for everything.
Most importantly, the full two-day session helped me achieve a greater, more positive outlook on my activist mission. The events above will only offer a peek into what you can expect if you enroll in the next Leadership Retreat, so stay tuned for details on what you can do to join! You may even solidify your purpose in this world by writing it down like I did: “I am here to build sisterhood, strength, and ability. I am here to use my knowledge and capability to keep my fellow women safe.”
Leadership Retreat Class of June 2016