The work we’ve done here at Polo Grounds this summer has given these young women a new spark, a new hunger for learning. It is evident in their eagerness to write, their excitement in coming across new books, and their new appreciation for their word’s power. During these sessions, they have been introduced to powerful role models, and they have a new source of strength and possibility modeled after strong women that they can look up to: Zora Howard, youth poet laureate of New York City, Pam Allyn, executive director of LitWorld, Jen Estrada, special projects leader of LitWorld, and last night, Phoebe Yeh, editorial director of one of the biggest publishing houses, Harper-Collins.
It made me so happy to see the girls eyes grow wide as Phoebe explained what it was like to publish books and bring them to life. Phoebe has worked with famed author Walter Dean Meyers- an author all the girls have read in school- so it was an experience for them to hear firsthand the process of putting these books together. When Phoebe gave out exclusive copies of fresh new books that have yet to hit the shelves, they were so happy and excited to jump in to a new novel that we had to take a moment to decide who was taking which book, and how they were going to share!
Stephanie wants to be a writer. She, like me, is a hopeless romantic. At 13, she is working on a romance novel and writes and reads religiously. Her thirst for literature reminds me of myself at that age, and I hope that she recognizes that her love for the word will take her to places she never even imagined! Aisatou is set to become a lawyer. Strong willed with a conviction that doesn’t falter easily, I know she will get there. How? Because as she read out loud last night, I noticed something different: her voice is coated with a new confidence and presence. Tiffany wants to become a doctor. Sweet and nurturing, she is a perfect person to help heal the world. What she probably doesn’t know is that her ambition is helping to heal her and her community already. Natasha is a leader with a charisma that can make anyone like her. With a vibrant and colorful personality, she has a presence that can lead change. She doesn’t fully recognize how powerful her words are yet, but she will, because they ARE.
Having Phoebe and Pam at our workshop there last night allowed these young women to meet women that can encourage them to dream bigger. Because of these sessions, we are encouraging these young leaders to DARE to dream. I can’t wait to see where their dreams take them. Kenya, one day, maybe?