With the changes in how our world operates due to the ongoing global pandemic, it was a bit hard imagining what I would be doing over the summer. With solemn thoughts, I firmly believed that this summer was bound to be an assortment of greys and glooms. What I did not know was that I would be participating in a recently changed program that would open my eyes to a new passion and ignite many more.
Before the summer began, I was accepted into the Barnard Pre-College Program. The original plan was to spend two weeks on the Barnard campus alongside other students from all over the world to take supplementary classes on specific topics. From Journalism to Activism in New York City, there was a wide variety.
Specifically, I was in the Young Women’s Leadership Institute (YWLI) and was taking Intro to Reproductive Justice. Before taking this course, I was not necessarily well-versed in this topic. Of course I found it of importance, but I hadn’t given it as much thought until I took this course.
Classes would run from the late morning to late afternoon. My specific course—of around thirty participants—would consist of us discussing the previous night’s readings or podcasts regarding reproductive justice. I think being able to listen to a wide variety of views opened my mindset, and the environment was very supportive! We placed an emphasis on creating a safe space and encouraged messy thinking (or speaking whatever came to mind).
The biggest takeaway from this class was looking at the bigger picture and how different issues come together through intersectionality! I focus a lot on racial justice, and now I often integrate feminist ideas into my thinking, as both correspondingly affect each other. After finishing this course, I’m pretty sure I’ve talked my parents’ ears off at this point.
In the YWLI, we were assigned to groups (based on similar interests), without much instruction, to create a zine. Now, you may be asking, what is a zine? I had the same question initially. A zine is a self-made publication focusing on just about anything! My group was tasked with creating a zine about breaking stereotypes. Given the diversity of the group, we talked about stereotypes regarding race, sexuality, and ability, and explained how stereotypes are detrimental as a whole. Using an inside joke about quaggas (a subspecies of zebra) created during one of the first meetings, we stole the spotlight during the group presentations and even gained ourselves a quagga fan club!
Looking back, creating a program that was supposed to be in person had a lot of challenges. However, Barnard did an exceptional job integrating virtual tools to create a unique experience for its participants, both in and outside of the “classroom.” Reflecting on the bigger picture, I know this year at Groton will be the first of its kind. Things will look different for sure. However, I have full confidence that we will be able to—whether virtually or in-person—create a lifetime experience for everyone!