It has been weeks since we came back from New York, yet still the days of Global summit and the memories are fresh in my mind. The learning, mentorship, networking with friends from all around the world, spreading love and kindness, and expressing thoughts and feeling through arts for 5 days has filled my heart with unimaginable joy. My time at the LitWorld / Global Glow HerStory Summit was short, but the impact it has had on me has been tremendous and I would like to share with you the story of my journey.
We started our journey from Tribhuvan International Airport where our Rukmini Team came to say wish us luck on our journey. It was a great moment seeing all our friends being so happy for the opportunity that LitClub Nepal had obtained. As this was also the first time flying for our little ambassadors, they were excited as well as nervous. This was also my first time travelling to the US so I was nervously excited as well. With guidance of LitWorld and Rukmini team, I felt that we knew what to expect once we got to America. After 19 hours of flights, we reached New York exhausted, but seeing the smiling face of Ana, our LitWorld coordinator, at the Airport all of our tiredness vanished. It was like a dream seeing her in person for me because I had many conversations with her through Skype, and she seemed like a person that only existed inside my computer. Besides seeing Ana, seeing the lights and hearing the sounds of New York was beyond what any of us could imagine…it was mesmerizing.
Our Rukmini Team had come to wish all of us best of luck in our journey to New York for the LitWorld HerStory Summit.
Day 2 of the session included a session where we drew our life path. In this exercise we got to reflect on the hardships we faced and the achievements we earned in our life. It was such a wonderful experience and by doing this while playing with colors made it fun too. Our girls truly enjoyed events like this, as they say how art could be a comfortable way of expressing our emotions, even the ones that are deeply embedded. Later in the evening, we had some inspirational women talking to us about their life experiences. This part of the session clearly showed how women are defined with courage and confidence. I remember the speech of our friends Sasa from Haiti who explained that it is not only important people that make changes in our society, even young girls can make a difference if they have a strong dream. Hader, who is originally from Egypt, gave is an inspirational talk about the work she does with girls involved in prostitution. I remember vividly her words saying that change could not be instant, but it is process of matter of time and if we want to achieve something – patience is must. Her story of her hardship to motivate the girls earning the livelihood with prostitution, about the importance of education was both heart touching and motivational.
A female symbol of strength, hope, and freedom — at Statue of Liberty. Photo courtesy of Monet Eliastam
On our third day, we had an opportunity to reflect on our daily routines back home. We were given 3 pieces of paper, which represented morning, day and evening. Tina, one of the LitWorld mentors, facilitated the session as we were asked to draw some scenes which reflected our day life. Once again, I was amazed to see how art could be used to express things that seem difficult to explain otherwise. I saw how easily the girls were able to share stories about their daily activities in the scenery they were drawing. As a mentor it was such an interesting experience, seeing girls from different countries share their daily life with one another and listening to each other so keenly. I was thinking of ways to use this in my own mentoring work back in Nepal. In the evening we had female representatives, who were working around the world on issues related to women empowerment, speak to us regarding their work. Listening to them about their work and their struggles inspired us and helped us understand that there are a lot of challenges affecting girls and women, but there are also many strong women working to make things better. The stories we heard made a great impact on all of us and we got to use these inspirational tales on a special session we had on our 3rd day at the summit. We had to make an artistic ‘box’ that represented a strong woman that reflected ourselves and the exceptional women leaders we met so far. We were all very proud of our box, as it represented both the struggles that women faced and the resilience they have in overcoming these obstacles.
Our scholars participate in the summit with other ambassadors from all around the world at the HerStory Summit.
Finally,on the last day of the HerStory Summit all of the participants were taken to a UN Assembly to take part in Commission on the Status of Women (CSW60). When we arrived, we saw many big personalities there. The session began with everyone singing our Song – “I’m gonna live” – which filled the room with strength and excitement. The session continued with the inspirational LitWorld founder, Pam Allyn, who shared her moving story of how LitWorld was started. We all enjoyed hearing this story and were inspired by it as well. Jasmine, one of the Nepali delegates stepped up to share how powerful the girls have become after attending the global HerStory Summit. Jasmine stunned the audience by saying “Girls are not weak! We should not wait around for an opportunity, we should not have to ask for it or expect it to be handed to us. We should snatch it!.” These strong and powerful words amazed the audience and watered their eyes; this was a proud moment for LitClub Nepal and Rukmini Foundation, because a small girl from a small country was able to speak such big and strong words. This was empowerment through education in real life.
Sitting with the LitClub team from Nepal, we intently listen to the inspirational stories from Jennifer and Kylie.
The session continued to be more empowering when Jennifer (HerStory Coordinator) and Kylie (Founder of Global Glow) shared with us the reasons behind why they feel stories are an important medium for girls voice to be heard. Representatives from HerStory delegation shared their feelings about HerStory Summit, highlighting where they are from, where they are now and where they will be in the future. HerStory delegates from Nepal, India, Kenya, Colombia, Detroit, and California shared their stories and vision for future on the stage. Finally Diana, the very first member, closed the show while HerStory ambassadors stood strong around the room holding the words that inspire their future and singing the powerful song “I’m gonna live”.
These 5 days in New York were a powerful platform for our ambassadors, allowing them to understand that girls needs to be strong in order to fuel change in our society. For mentor and coordinators, like myself, it was a beautiful platform to experience with our scholars. It helped me understand the different emotions the girls were feeling – their love, care, strength and inspiration. After spending 5 days with these inspirational young Rukmini Scholars, I had become more aware just how important it was for mentors to step into their shoes to actually understand them.
Jasmine shares her empowering story with all the other girls in New York
After we returned back to Nepal, our hearts filled with the experiences we had gained in the HerStory Summit, we promised to share this beautiful journey with our community. Our LitClub ambassadors came back and have started sharing their experience with their friends in school and their respective LitClubs. In addition, they have been organizing the art sessions they learned in the Summit for their friends in school. The one week session in New York was an unforgettable learning experience for our LitClub members and Rukmini Scholars. We made many new friends and built strong bonds with the inspirational figures we met. The trip was also special for our us because some of our Rukmini US team members also came to visit us and to motivate us. It was wonderful seeing how much we were loved! Thank you Rukmini Team for helping us gain this amazing experience.. This journey has made an unforgettable empowering impact on our Rukmini scholars and I would like to thank LitWorld and Global GLOW for organizing such a great platform which brought positivity in our girls, mentors and coordinators. We will not only cherish this experience, but learn from it and share it with others to keep providing more opportunities for girls to share their stories as they look to change the world around them.