My Experience at Girls Leadership Worldwide
Girls Leadership Worldwide (GLW) is a nine-day, residential program for girls entering their sophomore or junior year of high school, offered through the Eleanor Roosevelt Center. Thirty-five girls are admitted internationally during two different sessions during the summer to develop leadership skills through workshops and activities and by being emerged in a diverse setting, following the powerful model of Eleanor Roosevelt.
Coming to Girls Leadership Worldwide I had some reservations. I wasn’t sure if I would like the experience. Keeping an open mind, I applied for the program as a rising high school sophomore, writing several essays describing my interests and goals in life, and obtaining letters of recommendation from two teachers. Happily, I was one of 35 girls chosen internationally for the second session of the summer.
After 10 intensive days of activities and experiences, I can honestly say that I have been changed for the better. There was a broad range of activities in which we participated, extending from the visit to the United States Mission, participating in the workshop “Act Like A Lady, and Speak Up,” watching the documentary “Miss Representation,” and creating many special relationships with my GLW “sisters,” I have gained new knowledge and new perspectives.
The day we spent at the United Nations at the United States Mission was unique because we had the opportunity to meet a panel of four women who are involved in international relations on behalf of the United States, with each woman serving a specific role in the mission. This discussion was particularly noteworthy because the women were frank with us and we were able to understand what is accomplished at the United States Mission.
Sara Nowlin, the GLW program director, facilitated a workshop called “Act Like A Lady, and Speak Up.” This workshop was impactful because we discussed our experiences as girls living in the 21st century. Each girl described struggles she endured during her life because she was a girl and we each had a chance to explore them. At the end of this workshop, I felt as if we all had developed better relationships with each other because we all had something in common; we all shared similar challenges as females. Additionally, during this workshop we created a “box.” In this box, we named all the characteristics and qualities that a girl is supposed to have. Throughout out this exercise, we came to the realization that no one is perfect and no one fits perfectly in the box, nor should we strive for that. Our individualism is precious and shouldn’t be altered to fit inside this “box.”
We were given the opportunity to explore several careers that we may choose to pursue. I have identified a strong interest in business, and specifically, marketing and advertising. This newfound interest has motivated me to explore this field before committing to it as a career choice.
Girls Leadership Worldwide has been an eye-opening, life-transforming experience for which I am truly grateful. With the lessons I have learned, I can be a stronger, more sensitive and confident young woman in the years ahead. #
Marianna Cuomo Maier is a 10th grader at the Friends Academy in NY.