Aisatou (center) celebrates her birthday along with Tiffany (left) and Stephanie (right)
Our Harlem Teens at Polo Grounds just begun their third cycle of Girls Club, so there is much to celebrate! Aisatou turned sixteen a few days ago, so our Girls joined her in honoring another year of life.
The strength that we focused on during this session was Belonging, and I asked the girls to reflect on their relationships belonging to their families, culture, and heritage. We celebrated the presence of our mothers, and how they taught us all to be the women that we have become. We remembered the places we were born, and the cultures we were all raised within. We honored the sense of belonging and pride we feel as those descending from beautiful legacies and (her)stories. All of us coming from different places in the world, yet finding a parallel in our experiences as daughters and young women finding ourselves.
We read a poem by Korean American writer Ishle Yi Park, entitled "Jejudo Dreams", a poignant piece of a first generation immigrant daughter trying to find peace and reconciliation balancing the two worlds she comes from: America and Korea. She writes,
"I wonder: will my ancestors not hear me when I die?/Because of my accent? Will all the history I embody unravel with my time because this tongue/cannot recall the words braided into my bloodline?"
The girls reflected on this, recognizing their own experience in discovering where they belong.
As Aisatou so eloquently and powerfully writes:
I belong to a mother of strength. A country full of sorrow. A painful history. I am proud to be from a land that has fought back. I am proud to be from a mother so strong the sky will surrender to her.
As we ended, I know the girls are proud to know that at this Girls Club, they will always belong.