It’s weird how time works, it seems like yesterday my parents lugged all of my stuff into the city and said their goodbyes before leaving me in a very new and different setting, with new people, a new job, a new program – a whole new life. I remember the excitement, the nerves, and the unknown. I would never have guessed that by the end of the summer I would have met Eve and Anita Hill, made new best friends, explored the Museum of Sex, been a part of raising 2 million dollars at a Fundraiser Gala, and reaching out and collaborating with a COO.
I sometimes have difficulty recognizing my achievements, but I think it is important to be able to acknowledge your successes, because if not, you would always be focused on what you didn’t do and what you could have done; that just doesn’t seem like a healthy mindset. So I am glad to say that I am very proud of what I accomplished during my Moxie experience, that I really put myself out there, both with the Moxie girls and total strangers, and I allowed myself to be molded by the experience.
Now I can delve a little deeper into what I took away from this program – I had to limit myself with this blog title…If I didn’t cap it at 5 I would be going on and on, because a lot can, and did happen in my time here in NYC. However, I will just highlight the top 5 most important take-a-ways that I do not believe I could have gotten during any other summer experience:
1. New Friends & the luxury of discussion: Coming into Moxie one thing that I had hoped for was that I would not only get to know 9 other girls that I had never come in contact with at Duke, but also that I would somehow connect and click with 1 or 2 and find a friend that I would continue to develop a relationship with even when the summer had ended. Now this is asking a lot, especially for me and my personality. I don’t have very many close friends because I don’t force things that aren’t there. On top of that, genuinely good friends that you click with are very hard to find, but I am so fortunate to have found that at Moxie. On a different note, even if I didn’t make 9 new best friends I was granted the privilege of being surrounded by other women who were interested in exploring, and understanding, the position of women in our society as well as questioning and digging deeper into how we can create change for both women as well as all other oppressed groups. I will continue to have these conversations after Moxie; however this experience, our discussions and readings, and the safe environment that encouraged engagement can never be replicated.
2. Challenge & Feedback: Whether it was from fellow Moxies, my instructors, or in the professional environment, it was the group discussions, individual conversations and informal interviews that pushed me to view my actions, opinions and attitude from a new perspective. I found that although I am on the most part an understanding and open person, I do have some work to do with my reactions to people’s advice or feedback. I still see that I can get defensive sometimes and take criticism as attacking my character and beliefs. However, I need to keep in mind that it’s not “my” beliefs that are being questioned and on top of that these beliefs are not “truth.” After our last discussion section, I realized that I need to expose myself to the other side; the ideas that I may not agree with because 1. It is unfair to think that other people should hear me out and understand what I think is “right” if I don’t give anytime to explore their side, and 2. It is for my benefit to hear the other side because it will either reinforce my beliefs and develop my knowledge of the counter-argument, or it will expose me to something that maybe I agree with more…
3. New level of relationships and increased confidence: Working at Sanctuary for Families I had my first taste of the real “working world.” I had to learn how to interact with co-workers and my boss, to speak up, and to take a chance and reach out to others if I wanted to understand and engage on a deeper level. Additionally, I pushed myself multiple times to get to know people outside of my organization. I emailed and meet with others who I wanted to build a relationship with and share my ideas and projects with. I am now discussing new initiatives with COO’s, connecting with founders of organizations, and hopefully in the near future, meeting and brainstorming with individuals who have passion and power in the social movements I am involved in. This has elevated my confidence because it has shown me that not only can I interact with women on my own level, but I am taking that next step to engage and get involved with people in all different organizations, and diverse sectors, to address the same issues that I am trying to change in my own Duke community.
4. Respect & Appreciation: I wanted to thank my instructors and Duke-Engage for providing me this summer opportunity. There were definitely times when I was tired or stressed and did not want to go to events, or drained from the week and did not know what I was going to talk about in discussion but I tried to keep in mind that only 10 individuals were chosen for this program, and what they would give to be here right now. The last thing that we should be doing is complaining about our schedule or dragging out conversations because we just “aren’t feeling it.” Not only is it offensive to the people who are taking time out for us, but it just reflects an attitude of disregard and frankly, taking advantage of our privilege. Being respectful is not a difficult thing to do and it can only improve relationships.
5. Exposure: Real life, in your face experiences: Nothing compares to experiencing things first hand. The Pride Parade, meeting Anita Hill in person, discussing my future with a very powerful and knowledgeable woman, watching Subverted, a one woman play portraying 20 characters and the depth of oppression, walking the Brooklyn Bridge — I could go on and on. These events can be passed from one person to the next through written stories or word of mouth, videos can try to capture the power and emotion in a play, and pictures can attempt to display the multitude of characters that walked down 5th Ave during the Parade. But it will never feel the same as being right there. New York City is an amazing experience on its own, without an internship or Duke program, with people and experiences zooming by you. This summer I am reminded never to take these in-your-face opportunities for granted and to make the most of the experiences you choose to take part in, as well as the ones you are privileged enough to be given. Because there are SOO many people who will never get to experience it like you.