Across the Pond: Moxie Style.

“Hello my name is April and I am a student at Duke University.”

I have lived my life thus far as nothing but a student. My flirtation with jobs in the summer did not warrant me to identify with a certain restaurant or store. I have been shaped and formed by academic and educational pursuits. Growing up, education ruled over my family, it was king and everything else in my life was pretty much irrelevant. My dad always would say to us, “Health first, education second, and everything else.”.

Being a good student is part of who I am. I pride myself on my ability to study, ask questions and turn in work on time.

As I slowly transition from student to worker, I have been reflecting a lot on my different educational experiences: high school, college, and Moxie.

In addition to my pondering,  the Moxies visited GGE on Friday and we discussed factors of school push out for the girls that they work with and represent.  Much of this school push out comes from the missed work that occurs when girls are unfairly suspended from their schools.

One of these girls was suspended for two weeks because she refused to take bobby pins out of her hair.

Another was suspended for a week when she talked back to a teacher.When I heard this I cringed. A week? If you told me in high school that I would have to miss a week of school I would have had a tear filled angry breakdown.


I have had my share of “talking back” throughout my school career. I left little to the imagination with my opinion of my teachers. The frustrating thing is most people can’t connect the dots. They assume that when girls drop out of school they don’t have the motivation to finish, are lazy, or are not smart enough. Instead of the truth, they accept comfortableness and they refuse to accept the notion that the systems that they send their children to and donate money to are fundamentally racist and sexist.

Speaking of being comfortable…

I don’t think I will ever be more comfortable than when I was in high school.

Yes, high school. While many people may cringe at the thought of their high school. I can’t shut up about mine.

Imagine a place where you feel free to voice any opinion you have, raise your hand to answer any question, not caring if you get it wrong. You feel proud when you get it right and you are fine when you don’t.

Imagine a place where you don’t feel inhibited physically to dance, run, stretch, or wear what you want without the idea of a male’s opinion affecting any of your decisions.

I had four blissful and naive years without the distraction of the male gaze and the male presence. Yes, we still talked about boys and giggled when a boy entered our high school.


heteronormative I know, however really does depict the situation.

However, their presence never dictated how we lived out our academic and athletic pursuits.  Never once did I think that I shouldn’t raise my hand because of fear of a male’s opinion. It was unknowingly a sanctuary for my friends and I to thrive in and feel good about ourselves.

Thus when I went to Duke I was hyper aware of the fact that there were males everywhere. I had never been around, lived with, taken classes with males in four years and thus I was shocked at the domineering position they take within classrooms. From personal experience 80% of the questions asked in my big lecture classes are males. When girls ask questions its “I think that..” or “maybe I am wrong but…”.



This kind of stuff did not happen in high school. I am thankful that I don’t fear to speak up in class or seek out the professor in class. Women and men are accepted in equal numbers at Duke, pay the equal amount and thus have the same rights to speak up as much as they want in class and have the same amount of face time with the professor. What is different between my opinion of other girls before and after this summer is what has really changed. Before I was simply frustrated. I would sit next to girls who had questions who wouldn’t ask questions or ask me to ask for them. Now I understand that this inability to speak up is a symptom of the sexist cold that has infected the education system for years.

Finally, this summer has been an interactive educational experience. Just like there is the Duke bubble. There is the Moxie bubble. I know that I will never live and breathe in a space where I am able to have the intellectually thought provoking and passionate conversations that I have had this summer. Like my high school, my few interactions with males this summer have been light hearted and not focused on the conversations that Moxies have. Without the male perspective, we have been able to discuss and analyze how our personal experiences fit into the systemic puzzle that is the American and global world. I am filled to the brim with knowledge and understanding about how so many of our systems work together to oppress some groups of people and uplift others. But this again has been student work, I read and I write and I discuss theory as a student.

As the summer comes to a close, my thoughts have wandered to my next journey: London, England. I will not be returning to the Duke bubble but to a new school in the heart of the East End of London. As the only Moxie studying abroad, it has been hard to contribute to the fall plans of dinners, chats and activism on campus. I am both nervous and apprehensive about moving from Moxie to studying abroad. I want to incorporate the things I have learned in Moxie to viewing the world with a more analytical lens, but I worry that I might forget this between tea and visits from the queen. I don’t want to forget what I have learned, I want it to continue to make me question what I do and how I live.

Fingers crossed that crumpets and feminism go well together!

And as the British would say,






When did I become an adult?

Year 20.

In my 20 years I have lived through historic highs and historic lows. I still remember 9/11 and cheering on Michael Phelps in my living room when he won all 8 medals.

I have lived through 1 earth quake, 1 fender bender, 1 serious relationship, 2 family members passing, 2 moves, 15 years of education, 2 trips to europe and 1 trip to Nepal. These are but a few diverse experiences I have shaped me and I have kept with me into my adult life.

Yes my adult life. I can officially call myself an adult. Admitting that I am a full fledged adult has been a confusing journey. Possibly this stems from the fact that there are multiple definitions of what an adult consists of.


According to the United States, you are an adult when you turn 18. Unfortunately I can’t agree to this hard and fast rule of 18. At 18, I still had limited knowledge of the patriarchy, politics, the economy and society. My all-girls private education and my father had shielded me from really having to confront these issues, which I blissfully avoided. In retrospect I am happy I was too young to vote in the 2012 election, because I know that I would not have been intellectually equipped with the power of the vote.
1. a person who is fully grown or developed.

According to a quick search on google, an adult is defined by a person who is fully grown or developed. Physically, yes I have to agree, I have not grown an inch since the 11th grade. However this definition still doesn’t capture the essence of becoming or being an adult. No one is fully intellectually developed, and if they think they are… they are wrong. Living in today’s society, our views are constantly challenged, people do things that make us think differently, technology forces us to exercise new ways to connect and relate to one another every week. Look at my grandmother, the easiest way to reach her is on Facebook.

People grow, and people learn.

Here is my own definition:

Adult: A person who has come to understand that they are members of many different units, societies, and systems that are functioning simultaneously. This person recognizes that their actions have consequences and ramifications on lives outside their own.


Yes. That is a long winded definition for a seemingly simple concept.

No. There is no one event that transforms a child to an adult.

So when did I become an adult?

The easiest and most logical argument for many of us would be that going to college creates and instills enough independence to become an adult. I have to argue that adults and independent people are not the same. There are some adults that are both physically and emotionally dependent on others and there are some children that I have nannied that can take better care of themselves than I can take care of myself. Yes, college (supposedly) creates independents, but not necessarily adults. Many college students are not adults in my eyes. They do not recognize the impact that their everyday actions and fail to connect the problems that they encounter everyday on a systemic level. There are many people who are better at being adult because they did NOT go to college. College has created another private bubble for many of us, myself included, to wander intellectually but never experience other people’s diverse lives and experience.

To truly be an adult, one has to make the classic aristotle vs copernicus switch. An adult sees themselves as an active connected member in the mess of our society.

If it wasn’t moving thousands of miles away than what was it?

One does not become an adult over night. Instead it was a lengthy list of experiences that forced me to recognize my own identities, and take control of my own position in relation to others in society.

It was deciding that I was no longer pre-med and saw that my own skills would be better invested somewhere else.

It was forcing myself to cut some people out of my life because of how they treated me and how they encouraged stagnation instead of progress.

It was correcting someone when they said something extremely sexist and not feeling bad about it at all.



It was coming to NYC and participating in this program. No other experience has challenged me to think multi-dimensionally, multi-laterally and further than, “it’s because of the patriarchy.” I have met amazingly smart, witty, intellectual women who have challenged what I thought I knew to be true.

When did I know?

When I realized I truly loved listening to NPR.

me when listening to NPR

My entire childhood, I would complain  that NPR was playing on the way to school. Now, reading the newspaper, listening to NPR, and watching the nightly news has become both a habit and enjoyable past time. This love makes perfect sense. I have found a way to learn more about the systems that I am part of and how they are changing each day. As an adult, I feel a responsibility to understand and think about the issues affecting my community and society.

All of these experiences have allowed me to transition from an angsty teen to a self-proclaimed adult. Becoming an adult was not an easy thing to do. It required many failed attempts, many fights with my father, and many moments of uncomfortable unsureness. Like anything in life, adulthood comes with both drawbacks and benefits. No one is going to believe that you are actually asleep in the back of the car, and bring you to your bed. But as an adult, you can advocate for your beliefs in small and big ways, help your friends and family members on their own life paths, and live with a fierce intentionality that reflect your beliefs. Adulthood brings with it the challenge and ability to constantly change, develop, explore, think, and act.

It think it is a challenge I accept.

How to live through a monumental day.

In case you all have been living under a rock, you would have heard that the Supreme Court declared gay marriage legal on Friday June 26th, 2015. This decision’s timing couldn’t have been placed better within our Moxie program’s curriculum and gay pride month. It is as if June didn’t have enough gay pride!

The week before we had visited SAGE, an organization that provides services to gay, lesbian, and transgendered elderly across the nation, a group that is often forgotten in society. This week’s readings focused around homophobia, gay identity and the intersection between the women’s movement and the gay movement.

After this week’s decision the United States joined 20 other countries by allowing all couples to get married. I still remember watching the neighborhood of Capitol Hill in Seattle go wild when gay marriage became legal in 2012. That was nothing compared to the celebration that I experienced and participated in NYC this weekend.

I think out of all my days as an U.S citizen (aka all my days) this is the 2nd most significant day in U.S history I have lived through. I am thankful that, unlike 9/11, this day will bring joy and happiness to many Americans.

But how does one really celebrate and recognize when they live through something like this?

Step 1:  Believe your co-worker when they tell you the news.

Although I am usually an optimistic at heart, when Julia told me the news about the decision, I did not believe her. I didn’t have the capacity to think that our justice system could really be capable of this. Have faith, sometimes things turn out in equality’s favor.


Step 2:  Visit where the movement began.

Before coming to this program I honestly knew very little about the history of the gay rights movement. Despite my obsession with AP US History, I wasn’t exposed to the early protests of many poorer people of color who refused to be subjected to discrimination and police brutality. Thus the night of the decision, all of us visited the Stonewall Inn. The streets were flooded with all walks of life and happy energy was abundant. I know people say New York City is the city that never sleeps, and June 26th was no exception. When walking I overheard, “I met my first boyfriend here” from a clearly emotional man. Visiting the place where it all started, allowed me to pay homage to those who were brave enough to recognize the injustice they were facing and pay respect to what it meant to many people: a symbol of hope and sanctuary.

Step 3: Find the authentic amidst the commercialization.

Don’t forget we live in America, aka capitalism’s half brother. Thus when something in America happens to  pull at the heart strings of  Americans, 10 different companies try to sell and profit off those heart strings. Example: The NYC Pride parade was filled with different companies marching. How much was this motivated by their excitement of pride and how much was their participation motivated by marketing and branding?

Instead of pushing to get the Chipotle pins, or the shirts they are throwing out, try to take in moments of authentic humanity. This may mean different things for different people.

For me it was seeing couples of all different genders and sexual orientations kissing, holding hands and laughing at each other.

It was being blinded by how many rainbow colored flags flooded fifth avenue.

It was being offered ginger-biscotti by a women from Sanctuary for Families who complemented us on our pride themed outfits.

gay pride parade

Step 5: Recognize this one day doesn’t define history.

Yes, I just lived through a major judicial win for the gay movement. It would be easy for me, as a cis gendered heterosexual woman to mentally check off, “helped support the gay movement” on my lists of things to do. For many this could be an easy excuse to move on to different social justice issues. However, to truly make a change, a difference, an impact is to recognize that this movement is far from over and may never be. Our discussions in seminar have opened my eyes to reflecting on the intersections between marginalized groups in our society. As a proponent for women’s rights and equality, I need to and hope to continuously fight and be aware of how my position and my actions have the potential to help move and affect movements of groups other than “my own.” The longer I am in this program, the more and more I realize to truly be a proponent for one movement is to be a proponent for all because people and humans are multidimensional and have multiple identities.

So when living through either a national celebration, a historic decision, or even a country’s tragedy take a moment to recognize how this happened, why it happened, what it means to you and how you will contribute moving forward.




Has it really been only one week?

Greetings from the Big Apple!

Here I am! After two delays and one layover, I  made it to New York City in one piece. After thirty minutes trying (and failing) to hail a cab, I realized you needed to wait in line for them.

In the taxi I asked my driver,

Me: “Do you like living in NYC?”

Him: “No, there are too many people, I want to move to the South!”

Had this guy ever been to the South? While I love Durham and its southern charm, I will leave my qualms with the South for another day. I refused to let my driver kill my exploding child-like curiosity and wonder for New York City.

He wasn’t kidding. On a Sunday night at 10 pm where the streets of Seattle would be quiet, 14th street was bustling and hustling with people grocery shopping and going along their merry ways.

I truly understand now why Duke kids simply call it “the city”.

Learning to adjust to New York City’s lifestyle and the Moxie Program has been quite the learning curve. Here are some lessons I have learned thus far:

1. Grocery shopping is no joke.

Be alert and be ready. When you go grocery shopping, be prepared to stand in a line for the actual line. Small talk at the check out line is not a thing, so do not try it.

2. There are runners, but they are hiding.

As an avid runner, I feared the inhabitants of New York to be the slaves of gyms or yoga studios. On my first run I felt very self conscious that I was running. There were a lot of people staring, and I the more I tried to blend in the more staring I got. However as the street I was running on ran into the Hudson, the holy grail of running came upon me.

Uninterrupted stretch of pavement for bikers, runners, and walkers. I had found them, my people! Runners everywhere! This instance is a perfect example of how NYC uses space in creative ways. Walk anywhere and you can see small parks between buildings, coffee shops where only two people can fit, or tiny basement restaurants. In a city where space is limited, no space has gone unclaimed.

3. The subway is peacefully chaotic.

First day on the subway I couldn’t have been more excited. I felt adult and professional in my first day of work clothes.

Little did I know the subway is not for smiles. When you walk down those stairs and pull out your Metrocard something changes. No longer am I the friendly energetic person that I aim to be, but rather a woman with a silent purpose. I join the mass heading to my train and walk next to strangers. On the train Julia and I keep talk to a minimum and listen to the hum of the tracks.

This transformation came out of necessity. Go slowly you don’t get on the train, speak too loudly and you get looks, stare too long and someone says something. Running for your train, unlike the Duke buses, is completely acceptable. The subway is loud and chaotic. There are people going every which way, trains going different directions, people singing, people fighting, smells of food and urine.  Amid all this disorder, the subway is calming.   Here is a place where hundreds, nay thousands of people come through all with different lives, different places to go, and I am just one amid the crowd.

4. Street Harassment is more prevalent in our society than I could have imagined.

While the city continues to inspire, wow, and confuse me with its wonders, the most eye opening experience I have had so far is my work at Hollaback. Julia and I are responsible for approving stories for the Hollaback website. These stories are evidence and proof to the scope of street harassment targeted towards women, and LGBTQ community members. What struck me most was the scale in which these acts of harassment occur. Never before had I even heard of masturbating on the subway or groping as a means of street harassment. These acts occur every day all around the world and in the city. While I have experienced the “hey baby,” or yesterday’s “you and me tonight baby.” I haven’t had the very graphic and physical harassment that some of these women experience. My ignorance is indication of why Hollaback’s storytelling platform is crucial towards opening this often closed conversation.

So many of us are defined by our own personal experiences and forget that other people have difference experiences from our own.

So many or us do not take street harassment seriously because we don’t experience it in the same ways.

5. My fellow Moxies are hilarious, passionate and the coolest people I’ve met.

I guess getting thrown into the city to fend for ourselves was really the best way to bond. It is crazy to think I have only known these girls for little over a week. Each one has made their mark on me in a unique and wonderful way. Has it really been only one week?

Until next time,


Friendly but Frustrated Feminist Over Here

April is a junior at Duke who will be working with Hollaback this summer.

Let me start with a little story:

My legs are flying down a steep Seattle hill. “Wahooooo” I think to myself. I am killing it today. Give this a girl an Olympic medal because she has earned it.

Honk. Hoooonnnkkk.

As an enduring optimist, I wave uncontrollably believing that it is a neighbor or a friend who is saying hello.


Oh. Creepy man in the car you got me again.


My brain never registers that a honk could be anything more than a friendly hello. I quickly go from happiness to annoyance, to anger, and then finally to acceptance. This “acceptance” makes me so frustrated with the world I live in. It is this frustration that inspired me to apply to the Moxie Project, and I am very excited to work at Hollaback! this summer.

As little girls growing up, we are promised equal treatment wherever we go because gender equality has been achieved and is a problem of the past!

But how are the genders equal if one faces a commonly accepted daily harassment and the other does not?

Street harassment and other gendered problems are accepted to the point that women don’t mention it or bring it up in conversation. When I mentioned how annoyed I was at the street harassment that occurs in Durham, a male friend looked surprised and seriously asked,

“Oh, that happens?”

Yes, it happens. Yes, it happens to all women and often to many LGBTQ community members.  Hollaback! works to end this kind of acceptance and unawareness. Hollaback targets street harassment through online forums and aims to bring awareness to the normalization of this subject. The misconception of gender equality within our society is another reason why I applied to the Moxie Project. There still is a lot of work to be done to advocate, support, and help those who are discriminated against because of their gender.

Now that I have voiced my issues with our society, let me introduce myself. My name is April, a rising junior from Seattle, WA. I am majoring in Economics, and minoring in Women Studies. I enjoy a good run, yoga, puzzles, and breakfast foods. My beliefs have simultaneously been shaped by my Nepalese father, my large Irish Midwestern family, and my Catholic school education. While many of my friends had their feminist births in college, my all-girls high school allowed me to see the light earlier than most. This was both a blessing and a curse. During high school I was sheltered from domineering male opinions and I wasn’t subject to a lot of social scrutiny or pressure. However, I was not prepared for what was coming.

I wasn’t prepared for both females and males to say, “ I know him; she is definitely making it up for attention.”

I wasn’t prepared to hear my guy friends measure each other by the hotness of the girls they had hooked up with that weekend.

I wasn’t prepared for the interrupting male voices in my freshman seminar.

I have sadly grown accustomed to the male-dominated world at Duke, and while I have tried my best to interject when I hear something sexist or gendered, I admit it is exhausting bearing the burden of gender equality on my back.  When I first met my fellow Moxies, I thought finally people who actually want to talk about one of the most pressing issues facing Duke and our society.

In this moment of reflection, I will also admit that I am nervous. I have never been to the city that never sleeps (hopefully I will), and I have never had to face the difficult and thought provoking questions that are coming my way. However my nerves are mostly overshadowed by my excitement for exploring a new city, learning from other Moxies, and working for a passionate organization.