Friday, May 11, 2007

It's Chic To Do Good.

I was an AWOL Fashion Blogger yesterday because I spent most of the day working on a project called Girl Power (no, it's not a massive campaign to get the Spice Girls back together, although that's definitely a worthy cause too).

It's for a class I'm taking of the same name, and basically what we do is conduct a series of in-depth discussions (we call 'em "rap sessions") with groups of teenage girls, and then create a zine using their words (if any of my college professors were dead they would be turning in their graves right now because I just linked to Wikipedia). The point is to show these girls that their voices matter and give them a safe place to talk about their lives.

My partner and I did our first rap session yesterday, and it was seriously one of the most amazing experiences of my life. These girls were just seventeen or eighteen and had been through abuse, pregnancy, addiction, gang violence. They told us things that were really hard to hear, but it was so inspiring to see that they still had light in their eyes (although a few of them had been substantially dimmed). I mean, the people in these girls' lives had gone to horrific measures to put that light out, but they couldn't.

This one seventeen-year-old, a beautiful, vivacious sparkplug of a human being, said that her mom often tells her "I wish you were dead." I watched that girl later as she smiled and laughed and talked about her future and I thought, "Wow. That is strength."

Life is hard enough when everyone's rooting for you.

Obviously, Girl Power is a pretty specific project that not everyone can be involved in, but I wanted to take this opportunity to ask (plead with?) anyone who is interested in this sort of thing to think about volunteering for Big Brothers Big Sisters. I've had a "little sister" for almost two years now, and it is so fun and rewarding. As corny as it sounds, all it takes is an hour a week, and you make such a difference. My little sister's grades went from F's to A's within a year of starting the program (not to brag. well, okay, yeah, I'm bragging, but isn't that just too cool??). You can get a lil' sis if you're 18 or older, and you don't have to do anything heroic like tutor them in long division everyday (gag). My little sister and I go to the mall and complain about how expensive Macy's is, but drinking those Orange Juliuses (Orange Julii?) together and listening to what she has to say is enough.

I've always been of the mindset that since I made it through adolescence relatively unscathed, I owe it to other girls to help them do the same. And I really have thought for a long time now that so many of my regular readers and commenters would make excellent Big Sisters. You guys are so clever and kind and have such unique views of the world. You are wonderful (and stylish) people to look up to.

If you have questions or even an ounce of interest in volunteering, send me an email and I'll give you the scoop.

Sorry if that post was way too serious (and a bit high on the cornball factor) for a Saturday morning read, but I'm still a mushy little pile of emotions and I had to emote (plus, if I'd tried to write a regular post right now it would have come out like, "Isn't this dress adorable? WE MUST SAVE OUR YOUNG WOMEN!" and that would have been confusing).

In case you really just wanted a laugh today, here is a picture of a smiling goat:

God, that gets me every time.

Thanks for hearing me out. More lighthearted fashion to come.



Queen Michelle said...

That sounds like an AMAZING thing to do. I'm very proud of you. If I were in the US I'd do it - well maybe not, I'm not nice like you, plus I'd actually be old enough to be their mother, so that might be weird.

Some Lady W love here but since we're all getting a bit mushy it's cool - you are an EXCEPTIONALLY talented young writer and your wit is smart, quick and very observational but don't be scared to show us the other Winona, the serious, emotional Winona (I sound like Saint Oprah right now). We like that too. That's what'll make you a good big sister.

Rachel said...

First off, that sounds amazingly cool and I think you've got me convinced to sign up as a Big Sister once I'm eighteen (three months or so).

However, I wanted point something out to you... A Spice Girls reunion might actually be happening. I know, totally not related but you mentioned them in the first paragraph, so I had to tell you. Take a look.

Mommanista said...

Nice work. I always volunteered when I was your age, and really got a lot of satisfaction from it. Now I don't, because I am a social worker(and do a lot of stuff outside of my working hours and pay for my clients, so I guess I do volunteer, through my work), but I always encourage it. My brother is a big brother, and loves it.

Cute goat!

Annie said...

First of the goat.

Second of all...thanks for the inspiration! One of my guy friends has been doing Big Brothers for a while and has been suggesting I be a Big Sister... Between the two of you, you may just have me convinced!

Third of all...we can't be lighthearted fashion all the time. And if we were, would anyone really want to read about it? I'm just saying because I've recently indulged in some not-so-lighthearted posting about my triathlon lately, so I know how it is.

Good work! X to the O!

Anonymous said...

that is quite a goat. i wonder who sent that to you.

Anonymous said...

question mark

Candid Cool said...

Cute goat.

And I think it's great that you are a big sis, I used to do similar work with the National conference of community & justice in my high school days.

Anyway great post!

Anonymous said...

oh my god... that whole experience sounds amazing and I totally hear you on the emoting. anyway, funnily enough, I just submitted my BBBS apps like TEN SECONDS before I clicked over to Daddy Likey, so now I feel super up on the game!

I don't know whether this applies to anyone else or not, but I'm pretty sure it's possible to get a little without being 18, if you go through the right pathways. if y'alls talk to your local BBBS representatives, maybe you can work something out. also, for those of us who board (... like me), don't despair either - BBBS definitely does sometimes allow prep school students to get involved too!



Stefanie said...

Wow, what a heavy first rap session! That's amazing that the girls are optimistic - I totally understand how that can really motivate you ( or at least in my case) to not complain about petty things. Girl power forever <3

ricanprincess said...

I think the post was great!Every once in a while it is important to hear theese things. I do it everyday for a living I am a social worker for the board of education at a K thru 8 school in an inner city.It is very moving to see that others take an interest in these girls in school I get less than 20 minutes a week with them.I can tell you the girls who join this program get so much out of it.
Anybody who can volunteer please do, you have no idea what an impact a total stranger can have on a needy boy or girl. Like Wynona says not only will they be helped you will also find great inspiration from them.
The goat is so cute, I started laughing oput load with 2 of my student volunteers when i saw it!They like me read your post, and love it.

mildog said...

I can't tell if it's just because I'm sitting by an open window, but I totally got goosebumps reading your last post. I wanna do it!
And I want that goat to be mine.

Anonymous said...

LOVED reading this.


And thanks for the smiling goat! TOTALLY UNEXPECTED, yet right on time!

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