Polo Grounds Teen Club

Harlem Teens Make Dream Catchers with Special Guest Lauren Blum!

" Use the web to help your people reach their goals, making good use of their ideas, dreams and visions." - Lakota Dreamcatcher Legend

Yesterday evening, special guest and LitWorld friend Lauren Blum came to our Teen Girls Club in Harlem to make dream catchers, a symbolic piece derived from Native American culture that are believed to bestow pleasant dreams, good luck, and lifetime harmony. Lauren Blum introduced the concept of the dream catcher, and brought materials for the girls to weave their own. Suddenly, our room was turned into a space where the girls could debrief their day, and inspired a refreshing calm. The girls were so proud of their work, and beamed when they finished their dream catcher at the end of the session. Thank you Lauren for coming up to visit us! We hope to see you again soon!

Harlem Girls Club head to SoHo to visit the Huffington Post!

The Harlem Teen Girls Club and a couple girls from both Tuesday and Thursdays Younger Girls Club at Polo Grounds ventured to SoHo to visit Arianna Huffington’s work place, The Huffington Post. In December, Arianna graciously stopped in to visit our girls, so it was their turn to visit her place of work!

The trip started with some hand-games while we waited for the subway train…


Then, once we arrived at the Huffington Post, her friendly staff greeted us with a warm welcome, and the adventure automatically began. We were given a tour of the website by one of Arianna’s editors, Grace Kiser. The girls not only learned how vast the website was, but also where it started, how it grew, and how they could get involved.


We were then shown the offices, and this began with the most important office of all, Arianna’s. The girls were amazed with the colors and art that filled her workspace. But what amazed them the most was the picture of them from December, when the great lady herself visited the Polo Grounds.


Along the tour we met different staff in different departments. This helped the girls fully grasp how much work actually goes into the Huffington Post.


The tour ended with a token of tort bags and notebooks.


Thank you Arianna and her WONDERFUL staff for inviting us!

The Harlem Teen Girls Club Celebrate Belonging


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. 


Video: Eve Ensler on 'Embracing Your Inner Girl'

In this passionate TED talk by "Vagina Monologues" author Eve Ensler, she declares that every one of us has an inner "girl cell", a cell we have been socially taught to suppress. Our Teen Girls Club in Harlem watched this video and reflected on the importance of finding courage in vulnerability, and overcoming adversity through the shocking strength and intution of being a girl. Eve Ensler delivers an important message that speaks for young women all over the world:

LitWorld Girls Club Harlem Meet Arianna Huffington!

The Teen Girls Club with Executive Director Pam Allyn and Arianna Huffington

Earlier this month, the LitWorld Harlem Girls Clubs had the pleasure of meeting Arianna Huffington. Ms. Huffington's warm spirit was so inspiring and contagious, that the younger girls wouldn't leave her side! She was elegant, welcoming, and approachable all at the same time, a demeanor that many of the teen girls admired. She listened intently to the girls' stories, and shared her own.

She offered stories of courage and fearless pursuit of dreams, and, joined by our Executive Director Pam Allyn, they both reminded us all of our power to become the best women we can be.

Joining hands for the Farewell Song

Ms. Huffington with Executive Director Pam Allyn and members of the LitWorld Board

We hope to see Ms. Huffington again soon. Until then, we'll keep you posted on our next cycle of Harlem Girls Club, starting again January 2011!  - Ruby

Harlem LitWorld Girls Club Meet Arianna Huffington Tonight!

We are very excited! Thanks to all your votes, the Harlem LitWorld Girls Club won a spot on Arianna Huffington's book tour, and she will be arriving tonight at the Polo Grounds site for a personal appearance.

LitWorld Girls Clubs Harlem Preparing for Arianna's visit!

This Fall session has been filled with a lot of amazing discussions, new perspectives, and of course, exposure to new literature. The girls have grown so much, and their thirst for reading has only gotten more potent. They are filled with new visions and new personal missions of how they can affect the world around them. It arrives at such perfect timing then, that our closing ceremony for this Fall session will include a visit from a powerful female role model, Arianna Huffington.

We've spent the past few sessions preparing for her visit, rehearsing their written pieces to read aloud to Ms. Huffington, and practicing their introductions. I am very proud to introduce these remarkable young women to a woman who has achieved many things with confidence and courage.

Stay tuned for more photos after tonight's event. We will be uploading them shortly!


Give to Girls All Over the World.

If you have visited this blog before, you are familiar with LitWorld's work in empowering young women in countries such as Kenya, Iraq, Ghana, Liberia, and in various locations in the U.S.

This Holiday season, we have decided to engage our international community in a gift that lasts a lifetime:  launching five new Girls Clubs sites throughout the world. LitWorld Girls Clubs for literacy provides mentoring, literacy & leadership workshops, health & safety information, and lessons on female empowerment & the importance of education to girls in vulnerable communities. We equip these young women to become literacy leaders, thus allowing them to be more self-sufficient, educated, and empowered.

Please visit our Global Giving page on how you can give your gift to girls , and please tell your friends to pass the word along. You can also watch our video below, and go to this link for more information!


Forbidden Love: A Discussion About the Nature of Love in Society by Harlem Girls Club

Above: Aisatou Bah shares her thoughts on the politics of love.

By: Ruby Veridiano

Like many teenage girls, my girls in Harlem are always eager to talk about love. And why shouldn’t they? Love is both exciting and exhilarating, a new frontier to explore. After all, aren’t we all going to remain forever young on the inside, like giddy girls with budding hearts eager to welcome that magnificent thing called Love in? Especially around these girls, I know I most certainly do.

A few weeks ago, the girls and I spent time talking about love. More than just a feeling, we also recognized that in a world of injustice and inequality, love is also it’s own politic. To spark discussion, I brought in a song from one of my favorite artists, Janelle Monae. We listened to her song “Metropolis”, a song about a cyborg robot who faces the threat of being violently disassembled because she fell in love with a human.

Her lyrics read, “How can a wired thing understand/Love is too deep; too wide to feel/when your soul is a button/and your foot glows in heels”

Above: Tiffany Collins writes an ending to Janelle Monae's song

After listening to her song, I asked the girls if this concept of “forbidden love” told through the metaphor of a robot is something they could recognize in the real world. Immediately, we launched into a deep and profound discussion about love and the many politics that surround it. The girls brought up the forbidden love that sometimes taints relationships: from race to class, sexuality to religion, age and arranged marriages, the girls engaged in a deep, multilayered discussion about our country’s heaviest issues.

Girls at Harlem Polo Grounds Share Visions of Change.

This past Tuesday, I led the girls at the Harlem Polo Grounds in a discussion and writing exercise that urged them to talk about their purpose. Their visions of change included everything from education, women's empowerment, child development, and the elimination of all the "isms"- racism, sexism, classism, and the celebration of love in all its forms. It is inspiring to watch these young women develop their personal mission statement, and to create a space where they can learn to hone in on their "WHY". Watch the videos below from some of the Girls Club participants in Harlem, and listen in on what they want to contribute to our world. - Ruby

"I want to legalize gay marriage." - Daija Spaulding

" I want to help kids stay kids, and become adults when the time is right." (On nurturing child development) - Natasha Croom


"Women are empowered, independent, and strong. My power lies in my hands, and [it's ability] to withhold change." - Tiffany Collins


How do you envision change?

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.

LitWorld Girls Club Harlem Will Be Part of Arianna Huffington's Book Tour!

We at LitWorld have some amazing news! Our LitWorld Teen Girls Club for Literacy in Harlem has been selected to be a part of Arianna Huffington's tour for her upcoming book, "Third World America". Thank you to all those who voted to make this incredible event happen!

The Girls Club in Harlem just started this summer, and already we've accomplished an amazing feat by bringing one of the most powerful women in media to speak and inspire our teens. We can't wait to tell you all about it, so stay tuned!

Dear Kibera, Love Harlem

Dear LitWorld Girls Club Kibera,

You've been in our thoughts all summer. Here in NYC, the girls from Harlem have been eager to hear your stories, and they are excited at the possibility of one day meeting you all. In the meantime, they've got a message for all of you, and I am happy to introduce the girls to you!

Stephanie M:

Dear Girls Club Kibera,

Hey girls, my name is Stephanie Marfo and I am 13 years old, the youngest girl in the Harlem Girls Club. Even though I'm only 13, my life is not perfect in the world-famous New York City. By age 11, my dad was sent to a detention center for being an "illegal alien" and by the time I turned 12, he was deported back to Ghana, West Africa.

Ever since I was 11, I became a second mother to my two younger brothers, and a little bit to my older brother too. Plus, I had to juggle school with being a "mom". Of course, I fell behind because I'm busy, but I always catch up on my work because I always have hope.

I always hope that my father will return. I hope one day I will be free, that one day, the government will change, and that's what gets me by day by day. So have hope. I know that life might be harder for you down there, but like Kirk Franklin the Gospel singer said, "You gotta keep your head up because all your dreams are going to come true if you believe in yourself!". Stay strong, because it will help you go on in life. I know it sounds cliche, but its true. Always follow your dream.



Tiffany C:

Dear LitWorld Kibera,

My name is Tiffany Collins. I am 16 years old and I live with my mother. I have 1 sister and 3 brothers. I am like the second mother in the house but without a full time job. I cook and clean after my siblings. I live in the great big city known as New York. How is LitWorld in Kibera?!?!?



Aisatou B:

Dear LitWorld Kibera,

My name is Aisatou, and I'm from Africa as well. My mom was born in Guinea and so was I. I was fortunate to be brought to America at the age of seven. I know about the hard times in Africa. I know about the struggle of the people, especially girls like us because men are dominant. I feel for you girls. But through any hard times, I want you all to dream. When you hope and dream, you give yourself a light and something to get you through.



LitWorld Girls Club Harlem Wraps Up!

This past Tuesday was our last writing session for Girls Club Harlem. The Fall has begun in New York City, and the season is gearing up for new moves: going back to school, taking on new projects, and hitting the books yet again. The weather has cooled down too, a sure sign of a new season at bay.

The girls admit they've changed a lot this summer, cultivating a new appreciation for life, the word, and most of all, each other. These past eight weeks have allowed them to open their eyes to things that they never would have before, meet amazing individuals that they wouldn't typically encounter, and diving into conversations about global issues. For these girls who don't often think of the world outside of Harlem, this Girls Club granted them the ability to carry them halfway around the world, wrapped into discussions with Pam about Africa.

On Tuesday, these girls had these to say about their summer experience with LitWorld:

"Being a part of this group has changed me. It opened me up a lot and showed me how to give writing a chance." -Tiffany Collins

"[LitWorld Girls Club] made me come together with people I usually wouldn't hang out with. Its made me see how strong words can be, how words can move us. And I made a cool friend named Ruby!" -Aisatou Bah

" It helped me understand girls more and learn that I'm not alone. I also became closer to the girls in this program and I could talk more with them than I have ever done with any girl. It's been a great experience working with these girls, and I hope to continue!" - Stephanie Marfo

It has been a gift to work with these young women, future leaders who I am proud to watch grow stronger and more confident each time I see them. Next week, we are going out for our celebratory dinner in Little Italy, and all of us are excited to celebrate the transformation we've all experienced this summer. I will share some photos soon!

Collective Poems by LitWorld Girls Club Harlem

Last week, we had New York City's youth poet laureate Zora Howard come in for a visit, and she helped the girls write collective poems. Here are two of their chose pieces that reflect their current thoughts and emotions, written by each and every girl that attended (with contributions from myself, Jen Estrada, and Zora!)


My anchors, they hold me down strong

When needed they always come along

But when around other people, they act like they don't know

Friends, friends

Or so they say, or so I thought, or so it should have been

You prove that things aren't always what they seem

You become a whole other person I haen't seen

But I know that you know you do this

You're my friend and I'm telling you as a friend to stop and be yourself.

It's you I laugh with until my sides start aching- not this person you are painting.

You have an image that confuses me, is it a truth, or a lie?

When will your true colors come out

Because I can't wait for that day to come when somebody tells you off like me, a friend

True friends are true colors that stick to you,

They show the best inside of you, like a mirror revealing your strength to the world

But they can also bring out the worst, the weakness

"Family Issues"

They are always yelling

About this and about that

Nobody is listening to what I have to say

I am yelling a silenced rebellion

Screaming from the pits of my soul, but they hear nothing but silence

I think of torturous things to do, hoping to get their attention

But they are still my family

And they are still first, in my heart, though it hurts sometimes

A love unshakable and immovable like mountains rooted in Earth

A comfort so deeply needed

I scream, I cry, I plead, and yet, I do not succeed

I surrender from this family

I am taking a step back for myself. Inside of me everything is good, everything is bad, things I embrace, and things I will let go of.

When will I let go and tell you all you need to know

Because that day will hit harder than you'll ever know.

LitWorld Girls Club with Special Guest Phoebe Yeh!

The first thing I hear when I come in the door is Stephanie saying, “Oh man, I’m sad, [Girls Club] is almost over!”

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?

An Amazing Evening at Hue-Man Bookstore

Hue-Man Bookstore, Harlem, NYC

I relearned what passion meant this evening. In the midst of an unnerving battle inside, something broke light- a peace treaty that offered a hope of salvation: tonight, my girls reminded me of the reason why I fell in love with the word.

Tonight, during our trip to the Hue-Man bookstore in Harlem, the girls collectively wrote poems. New York's youth poet laureate, Zora Howard, was our special guest this evening, and she joined us all in on a writing exercise that challenged us to write one line after another, adding a piece of ourselves to create what would be one collective piece. She started us off with four blank pages with one topic written above each: broken promises, friendship, family issues, and breakups.

We started it with one line, then passed it on. Each time we passed the paper, we folded it over so that only one line was visible. By adding just one line each, the girls witnessed the magic of a seemingly disjointed and scattered process eventually bloom into an overflowing expression of thought and emotion.

As I write this, I recognize that this poem process gives me a perfect metaphor for life: all these scattered pieces, broken and seemingly jagged, eventually come together to make its own unexpected masterpiece.

Zora not only facilitated the writing process, but shared a piece of poetry with the girls:


I felt so proud to watch the emerging excitement they exclaimed while watching her. I witnessed a spark light up inside all of them, the wonder and magic of seeing a reflection of their beauty unfold in such a powerful voice, by someone who shared their experience. Someone who they can relate to and aspire to be. Growing up in a neighborhood where they watch their peers become mothers prematurely, and where they too often watch others make bad choices, knowing Zora was college-bound was something that resonated a new kind of motivation within them. Zora, who like them, was raised in Harlem, was attending Yale University in ten days. With their mouths agape in awe, I was reminded of that feeling that comes when inspiration hits you in a way that you will remember for years to come. The time when inspiration transforms you, and when inspiration becomes passion and passion becomes salvation.

Salvation. It is with these words that save us all. Loaded with truth and hope, it becomes weapon, shield, growth, destruction, and rebuilding all at once. It is with these words that these young women from Harlem will know and learn how to carry their unending source of power. Tonight, these young women found their power and salvation. And through them, I rediscovered mine.

I am confident, more than ever, that through these Girls Clubs, we are transforming the world.

LitWorld Girls Club Day 3

With summertime and energy filled teens, there's never a dull moment at Polo Grounds. Pizza snacks are on hand, and chatter slowly fills the room as the girls walk in. Fifteen minutes later, and it's full blown girl time, with giddy giggles fluttering like hummingbirds inside our classroom. Everyone is laughing and catching up with each other, exchanging exciting pieces of news from the week prior: someone bought a new dress, another had an adventurous day at the Children's Village, and another had a meal outside the ordinary. We've all become friends now, so all of this chatter is just as necessary to our sessions as our writing exercises. (I'm happy about that.)

Last week, I sent the girls home with a writing assignment to re-tell a life defining moment in their lives. Some of them brought their stories in, and some had yet to begin. Some were almost convinced they didn't have a story to tell, and I asked them to take a moment to dig deeper. My request was met with some discouraged sighing, but gladly, nothing a few jokes couldn't cajole. Brainstorming was coupled with a chatter that can't be contained (these are teenage girls, after all) but I was satisfied in knowing that they are writing and trying.

Some of the girls felt concerned that their stories are too personal, too "deep", too honest. I assured them that in this way, being a writer can be hard, mostly because you offer a piece of your story to share to the everyone, and offer a vulnerability that you may not even know existed. I assured them that they only need to write about what their comfortable with, but to know that their honesty and their story are valuable- you never know who can read it and feel the exact same way.

We talked about the difference between "showing" a story versus "telling" a story, and asked them to recall what metaphors and similes can do to a piece of writing. After a few visits "in my office" (my corner of the room), I was able to chat with the girls and give them individual attention and advice to make their writing paint pictures with descriptive language. Their drafts are getting better, and I hope we can have a few to post on the blog soon!

Coming to spaces like these is the reason why I'm always going to feel young. I still feel like a teenager, talking about fashion with the girls, giggling uncontrollably, and playing both Drake and Stevie Wonder in my iTunes as they write. They might make a few jokes about their mom being the only person they know playing Stevie Wonder, but even they can't deny that this is classic.

Some things just don't get old. Like being a teenager, loving music, loving love, and loving the discovery of owning our words. That, will always be a wonder to me.

LitWorld Girls Club Day Two

Yesterday was our second day trekking up to the Polo Grounds for another breakthrough workshop for the LitWorld Teen Girls Club, and Lauren and I arrived with colorful index cards emblazoned with powerful quotes! Staying true to LitWorld's mission to create "words that change worlds", last night's workshop further instilled each young woman's ability to harness the power of a positive voice.

The girls came in fluttering with excited chatter, and upon overhearing conversations about how disappointed they can be with their neighborhood and environment, I jumped in to ask what good and positive things they can find there. Immediately, they replied by saying, "Nothing's good here, I wouldn't even invite my friends up here. Everyone knows this neighborhood is bad." I smiled and said, "But this is space is good, right? This Girls Club? This space we are creating for each other, this is positive, no?" They smiled meekly and shyly agreed. I reminded them that if we don't see what we like, we all have the power to draw from ourselves and help to empower each other. No matter how small, our intentions and our strengths are bigger and stronger than we know. I think that little by little, they are beginning to believe this more and more.

After our opening check-ins, I asked the girls to get on their feet. I divided the room into three sections: YES, NO, and MAYBE. I instructed the girls to go to the part of the room they felt they belonged to after I read some statements out loud. The statements went something like this:

I have a woman I look up to.

I have a lot of girl friends and get along well with other girls.

I have a story worth telling.

I want to change the world, and I have goals and dreams.

After the girls went to their respective corners of the room, we had mini discussions. Some of them responded that they don't have many girl friends because girls can be "catty" or tend to talk negatively about other girls. I reminded them of one of our seven strengths, "Sisterhood", and asked for them to remember that as women, we should continue supporting, empowering, and uplifting each other, because all in all, we are in this movement together. I saw a nod of agreement come from each of them, and they looked at each other and smiled. I felt proud to watch them trust each other more and more.

What I love most about these young women is their energy, excitement, and enthusiasm for books, words, and reading. We laugh often, make jokes, and get serious when it's time. We made a list of books they loved, and it was a frenzy: they loved so many of them, including Judy Blume (gosh, she never gets old, does she? :) )

Our next activity used our powerful quotes cards. I had the girls pass the cards around and identify which quote spoke to them most. They exclaimed with excitement when they found "the one". Tiffany was moved by a quote from Nelson Mandela, Mandy gravitated toward one by Reverend Run, and Zena was drawn to one by Dr. Seuss. They wrote a reflection in their journals about why this quote is one they live by, and shared. They are such powerful young women backed with a strength they don't even (fully) know yet.

Our next activity was more writing, but since it was getting late and I wanted them to spend more time on it, I sent them home with their journals to work on their personal stories based on a significant, life defining moment in their life. Next week, we are doing editing workshops and decorating their journals with a collage theme based on this question: What kind of woman do I want to grow to be?

I can't wait for next week. As always, I will keep you posted. Pictures to come soon!

First Day of LitWorld Girls Club in Harlem

Hello everyone! This is Ruby, one of LitWorld's newest team members. Over the past few months, I’ve been granted the honor of developing the first Girls Club Teen program in New York City for LitWorld. With the help of longtime LitWorld veteran Jen Estrada, we put together a young women’s reading, writing, and empowerment program for the Polo Grounds Center in Harlem. I’ve been so excited to help launch it, and happy the day had finally arrived!

Last Tuesday was our first day, and I couldn’t be happier to say it unfolded beautifully. With the help of LitWorld intern Lauren, we painted a poster for our summer “clubhouse” that displayed the seven strengths that the Girls Clubs are themed around: Belonging, Compassion, Esteem, Friendship/Sisterhood, Self-Respect, Curiosity, and Hope.

Every young woman that entered the room had a smile and a personality as bright and colorful as our poster. They embraced the idea of sisterhood immediately, and their enthusiasm for writing, reading, and most of all, their potential to harness their powers of being women uplifted me in a way I didn’t know I needed. Leading workshops like these are funny that way. My students never fail to teach me, to move me. In truth, they are my teachers, and I can’t wait to see what I’ll learn from them.

From our icebreakers to our first free write, I was inspired by their energy, the playful fire inside all of them. Loud or soft spoken, I can sense their potential to transform themselves, each other, and the world. Imagine my delight when our youngest and shyest of the group, 12 year old Michelle, volunteered to read her free write in front of the whole class, and had her older counterparts encourage her to feel brave enough to speak up. Witnessing that gave me all the joy I could ask for. And imagine, it’s only day one.

I can’t wait to share what’s to come. This is only the beginning… =)