I am convinced that the day that LeeAnn Fletcher called my house to say that I got off of the Sadie Nash waiting list is among the most life-path-altering days of my life. The most important concept I learned at Sadie Nash was that of safe space. At first, the idea of creating a safe space with a group of teenagers who I had never met before seemed ludicrous. I expected to be confronted with drama and rivalries and the general chaos I’d seen on “reality” tv shows. But we all gave communal safe space a chance because deep down, despite our doubts of its existence, I think we all desperately wanted it to be real.
Our efforts certainly paid off. As the summer progressed, we came to realize that a safe space wasn't a place where there were no judgments or opposing opinions. Rather, in our safe place we
acknowledged that judging is inevitable but what was most important was how we acted once our opinions were formed.
We learned to challenge ideas rather that the people who held them.
We became conscious of the fact that respecting other people’s points of view is what allows us to stop surviving and start living.
We created a safe space.
Sadie Nash Leadership Project helped me find who I am and who I want to be. It sparked my interest and made me want to do more for my community. I can not begin to explain the feeling I gained from meeting so many diverse women from all walks of life and learn that we all share common issues, feelings, and so much more then society leads us to believe . I will never forget PIP (a core class in the program) were we discussed our flower of power and other major social issues. In the flower petals we put our race, religion, gender ,citizen status, sexual orientation and other things about ourselves . Each week we discuss a different petal and issue. Each week I realized who in society really had poweror an advantage just because they were born or choose to be a certain. I wanted this to change so did the other girls in my class. Over all Sadie Nash gave me hope that change is possible. I felt like I could be a leader and I'm not alone in my fight for social change . Sadie Nash was a program that I am thankful for being apart of and looking forward to going back to.
I became a nasher when I was 17, years old and never regretted any moment apart of this organizations. They have taught me leadership skills: how to be proficient, how to work with others from other ethnic groups and it has taught me about the world beyond what I thought I already knew. The summer program was a great experience!! Implementing ideas we(the nashers) wanted to inform others about and most importantly how to help others.
I believe one of my best acquirements of being in Sadie Nash is knowing how to give to others, building courage for myself, learning how to respect others from different backgrounds and how to make a difference in society.
What I learned from SNLP is incredibly value, and has helped me understand my strengths as an immigrant woman of color. As a former ELLA fellow, a program dedicated to give young women a chance to lead a social justice project in communities they identify with, I started my project at one of the worst times in my life-- fresh out of college, away from home, etc. Through mentorship of the coordinators, as well as my peers, I came to understand the support system I had, and learned a great deal about grassroots organizing. To this day, I thank SNLP for the incredible year they gave me, and helped me realize the confidence within me.
I participated in the Summer Institute at SNLP and it has honestly changed my life. It opened up new pathways that I had never considered. Prior to my experience, I never thought of myself as a leader. At SNLP, we were engaged in discussions and it was there that I learned that I had a voice and that I should use it. Since that summer, I have taken on many leadership roles and am looking forward to continue my leadership. I am even now considering starting my own project for the community--a feat that I never would have considered!
Sadie Nash was a fantastic experience. I learned so much about myself and my potential. It was one of the greatest learning experience I had in my years of high school. Because of Sadie Nash, I learned what I truly believe it and I stand up for it.
As an alumna of Sadie Nash Leadership Project (SNLP) Summer Institute in 2003 and 2004, a Dean of SNLP’s Summer Institute in 2007, and a member of SNLP’s Board of Directors from 2005 to 2007, I can attest that SNLP’s Summer Institute inspires and changes young women’s lives through their leadership-based education. What I learned from SNLP’s summer programming many years ago has and continues to inform the work I do now even after completing my college education.
The courses and workshops I participated in at SNLP were extremely beneficial to my social experience in high school because they enhanced my self-confidence and self-awareness. Even now, I clearly recall how workshops on topics such as body image and portrayals of women in the media helped me overcome the misconceptions I had about to societal norms of beauty and power and appreciate my own appearance and acknowledge my own strengths. This self-awareness slowly improved my self-esteem, which was integral to my increased participation at school. In the past, I almost never raised my hand in class for fear of seeming stupid. However after my first summer with SNLP, I started to raise my hand more often because I had become more confident in my abilities and my right to ask questions when I did not fully understand something in class. My grades improved due to my increased participation. The school year after my first SNLP summer, I ran and won the election to become the president of Key Club, a community service organization at my high school. As the leader of the largest organization in my school, I became more active in student affairs. My increased involvement at school naturally made me more devoted to attending school.
In addition to helping me in school socially, SNLP was also essential to helping me excel in school academically. The Summer Institute classes, ranging from Writing is Fighting, to Power, Identity and Privilege, focused on topics that were personal to us and that we felt passionate about. In this way, we were better able to learn because the topics that were being taught was enjoyable. For example, in my Role of Public Education in America course, we were asked to research, debate, and write on contemporary education issues such as, private school vouchers and affirmative action. I credit this highly rigorous course for not only teaching me about history, government and public policy in the United States, but also for honing my research methods and essay writing skills. The knowledge and skills I gained from that and other SNLP classes have been valuable to both my high school and college education.
However, unlike the other more traditional summer learning programs, SNLP taught us much more than the technicalities of what to learn- SNLP taught me how to learn. In my Power, Identity and Privilege class, I studied the power structures and institutions that shaped my life and my society and explored how they all affected me as a young woman of color. By realizing how oppressive many of the most powerful institutions in our societies are, I learned to be critical and to question everything- even the things that seem “natural” or “just the way things are.” Because I had become interested in empowering myself and others, I became a more active and engaged student at high school, and later, in college.
My SNLP education continued to influence me in college when I traveled to the Himalayan region of China to conduct independent fieldwork on ecotourism development in a matrilineal society in the area. My SNLP education not only nurtured my academic interest in gender and justice issues, but also my confidence to travel and work alone in a remote, unfamiliar place. My research was successful largely due to my comfort with nuance and critical analysis, and dedication to ethical and accountable scholarship which SNLP has always taught and exemplified.
When I was applying to the Summer Institute I read that I was expected to work with a community of diverse, young women and that is exactly what happened, in such an educational, enjoyable, and memorable way. I shared my personal experiences with girls that I didn’t know and they did the same, and they accepted me. It was the very first time that I have worked with so many females and I felt so comfortable. I didn't have to worry about what anyone thought of me and I was glad to have that state of mind because it's what I think of myself that matters. My Dean was like the big sister that I never had. When I talked to her, it felt really good. We had so many connections on different levels and that was the same with all of the Nashers. Our talks consisted of fierce, beautiful, and powerful ideas with smiles, laughs and sometimes tears.
I learned about things that I had never heard of. Power, Identity, Privilege (PIP) had such a positive impact on my life and has inspired me to become an educator! And Leadership Seminar strengthened my leadership skills. My creative and academic classes rewarded me with so much knowledge and changed my ignorance about the social construct.
I believe that every young woman should have the chance to be a part of a community like the Sadie Nash Leadership Project because it is an everlasting bond that I am so thankful to have.
The staff at SNLP worked very hard to create a diverse environment. I believe that they did an excellent job, not just with racial, sexual, gender, religious, socio-economic, nationality, diversity, but also with skill sets. Every participant in the program, Deans, Staff, and Nashers all brought something to the table which greatly improved at least one other individual and the community as a whole.
SNLP was the major catalyst for expanding my gender and sex related research into Chicana feminism, integrating class, race, and many other aspects of ones identity into a feminist context.