This blog post was written by Julia Gagliardi, Programs Intern.
Girls Write Now partnered to launch the 4th Annual Girls Leadership Summit, a project of the New York City Council’s STARS Citywide Girls Initiative, on April 4th, 2018 to facilitate workshops for student attendees under this year’s theme “YOU: The Change Agent.” The Summit was hosted at the High School of Fashion Industries in Manhattan in partnership with nine leaders in NYC after-school programs—Girls Write Now, Groundswell, Lower Eastside Girls Club, PowerPlay NYC, Row New York, Sadie Nash Leadership Project, the Armory Foundation, Figure Skating in Harlem and Girls for Gender Equity.
The 4th Annual Girls Leadership Summit was emceed by Shantae J., found of IAMDOPE Inc. Shantae J also introduced the youth step team, the keynote speaker, 17-year-old Afro-Latino trans teen activist Grace Dolan-Sandrino, and moderated a youth panel of NYC teen activists. In the afternoon, student attendees participated in interactive workshops and leadership labs on advocacy, social media and creative writing skills.
First year mentee, Nneka Ulu, and I collaborated to facilitate a workshop on found poetry and media literacy among young girls and gender non-conforming teens. The workshop used word clouds of popular language found in media channels on Snapchat Discover.
Nneka and I prompted discussions with the middle- and high-school student attendees on the sources of media language and words and public perception of teen girls and gender non-conforming teens. We also reflected on the implicit, media-driven narratives, stereotypes and expectations embedded in popular language.
The workshop included the opportunity for students to practice creating found poetry using popular language in media. Students used word clouds and magazine pages to generate erasure and found poetry as a way to reclaim popular media language, enhance creative writing skills, and advance media literacy for students and urban youth.
I was so excited for the chance to directly collaborate with a GWN mentee by teaching a workshop together. Nneka and I bonded very quickly and supported one another as co-facilitators. We gave one another feedback and tips about our facilitating style, talked about college, and exchanged book recommendations.
Facilitating the workshop on found poetry at the 2018 Girls Leadership Summit offered me new insight and a different perspective on educational programming. I was able to contribute to every aspect in the process─from the ideation and creation of the workshop, to teaching the material to students. At the end the workshop, one student said they wanted to create found poetry from all types of media. The student listed magazines, billboards, makeup packaging and other advertisements as some examples of media sources. I was energized and excited to hear the ways that students wanted to apply found poetry to all types of media, and leverage found poetry to reclaim and redefine popular media language to empower themselves and affect a change in media literacy.