In Love and Learning: Harlem Polo Grounds Girls Club

"I want to get married inside a Barnes and Noble"- Stephanie Marfo

Every Tuesday, I take the B train up to 155th Street. It's a long trek from the C train in Brooklyn, where I live, but I don't mind. When Stephanie comes rushing in on our first day of Girls Club ambushing me with the biggest hug and the most excited smile, the train trip doesn't even matter- her energy makes it all worth it.

The girls have grown so much since I first met them in the summer. They speak with much more conviction, and their perspectives are broader, more expansive. They recognize their transformative power. They know they are destined for greatness, and this new kind of confidence shows in their poise. And yes, they are still amazingly rambunctious, loud and effervescent, proud and bold.  They tell me it's the Harlem in them. I say, "YES!"

If only the world could see what I see in this room inside Polo Grounds every week. We've been meeting three times now, and each week, we have an incredible conversation that shows me just why I am able to have more hope in the world. These young women talk about books as excitedly as they talk about love (and for teenagers, I think we can all imagine what a hot topic love is, so that says a lot!). They told me they want to get married inside a Barnes and Nobles bookstore. It is so telling of how married and committed they are to their roles as learners, and how much they love nurturing their education and their vision of themselves as leaders. It is so inspiring to watch such an energetic group of girls explode into their potential, and the beautiful thing is, they're only getting started.

When I met these girls at the start of the summer, they hardly knew each other. They were hesitant to talk about their thoughts out loud, and their perceptions were limited to the views of their neighborhood. Now, they talk about social and global issues, show empathy to girls in other parts of the world, and recognize, more and more, their ability to lead and empower. They own their responsibility to be examples and role models, and I am so incredibly inspired by their enthusiasm and curiosity.

And that long train ride from Harlem to Brooklyn? After these sessions, my heart is so full, that time just seems to fly by. I am so thankful for this opportunity.