“How was it?” Ms. Manspeaker asked the team, as we drove back to campus. We, the Atheneum Leadership Team*, were returning from our event at the Stevenson Carmel Campus, where we screened the documentary Finding Kind and were joined by the seventh and eighth grade girls for the evening. The documentary addressed the issue of girl-against-girl bullying. The two young women behind this campaign, Lauren Paul and Molly Thompson, sharing similar experiences with bullying during their childhoods, found that it was a common issue throughout all communities across the country. Their campaign took off as they traveled the entire country, interviewing different girls about their personal experiences while promoting awareness and reconciliation on the issue. To say the least, it was an eye-opening experience.
Throughout my childhood, I had never encountered any experience with bullying. As I listened to the stories being shared in the documentary, I was unable to resonate with the pain and emotional suffering that they endured. Though I couldn’t empathize with them, I felt sympathy and compassion to become more aware of this topic. Even though I was thankfully never a victim of bullying, I did have experiences where I was hurt by other girls. Shamefully speaking, I must admit that there were also times when I was the one hurting others. Listening to the other girls’ reflections and responses, I found that I wasn’t the only one feeling this conflict that was both individual and interpersonal. As a group, we recognized the meanness and so-called “cattiness,” which may not even be ill-intended, that we as girls were capable of inflicting upon each other. This recognition of the problem was a step forward, and we each pledged our own goal to spread kindness to one another.
On the way back to campus, I felt a little touched. I had not only reconciled with myself for my own actions and made a promise to strive towards my better self, but I had also grown closer with my fellow Atheneum leaders through this activity. We all had a common goal of promoting women, and the first step to that process was to begin resolving issues that were against each other.
A cute photo of all the Atheneum Student Leaders and seventh and eighth grader girls who joined us!
* For a brief explanation, Atheneum “seeks to create a more just and equitable world. With ongoing educational programming, members are invited to empower one another through service-oriented events, discussions, creative activities, and skills-based tutorials. At the heart of our mission are issues of gender equity; honoring racial, ethnic, and geographical diversity amongst all social classes; acceptance of diverse sexualities; and promoting healthy choices, future goals, and self-esteem amongst all who identify as female.”