I had the amazing opportunity to serve, to give and to Influence power in NYC’s most powerful young women through Gnep’s 6th annual Teen Summit on March 16, 2013. I had been introduced to Akua Sodawa the Founder and Executive Director of The Gye Nyame Empowerment Project and Lets Pursue You Company. I literally was connected to her 4 weeks before the summit and had been attending their planning meetings and was lending support anyway that I could. The week of the summit during the last planning meeting it was discussed that they had met and exceeded the number of young women that would take advantage of what the teen summit would offer. To meet the demand more workshops had to be added to accomadate the growing number of particpants. Internally I knew that I would love the opportunity to lead a workshop to lend my gifts, talents and abilities but I surrendered to be used as a vessel in whatever capacity was needed the day of the event. Right before I was to head out after the discussion, I asked what area needed the most help just so I knew how best to serve. In that moment, I saw passion meet purpose and again I “showed up”for it. I was added to the schedule and the event as one of the additional workshop leaders they needed! I was more then happy, thrilled or excited. I felt a great sense of gratefulness and humility. God had divinely set up this moment in His time for me to be able to contribute to such a great movement of influencing the generation that is coming after us. What a honor it was. The charge I had was leading a workshop talking about forgiveness. God has no subtly, I laugh because last year this time, I struggled with forgiving my birth mother for abandoning me and being on drugs. Being that I had just had a daughter of my own, it had become extremely difficult for me to allow her to have a relationship with my daughter because I felt she neglected to have a relationship with me, so how dare she want to love my daughter more then I felt she loved me? Going through that process of forgiveness and understanding the process I went through last year when it came to this particular subject and me having to facilitate a conversation with young women about it was God showing me that what I go through is Never for me but for the benefit of the audience that He has entrusted me to inspire, which is young women.
These are the elements of Sisterhood I learned that day:
Sisterhood Takes A Village
When I went up to the room where I was assigned to conduct my workshop, I took the time to prepare for the young ladies and in the process, I could not help but give God the glory and Praise. When I was done I felt the nerves stirring up but I relaxed and let God be God in me. Just as I was finishing up preparing, another workshop facilitator came in for a workshop as well. She had the same topic as me and was leading her workshop earlier then me. I then was told by the organizer to change rooms since the girls that were coming to the room would be in that room all day. So I packed all my things and went to another room where another workshop facilitator was leading her workshop. I was told to be a support to her and to just observe the climate of the workshop and to get an assessment of how workshops are facilitated for this particular venue. This worked out perfectly for me because it turned into a teaching moment. I was thrilled! I sat in and even participated in the workshop, which was great. When it was my turn to faciltate my workshop I was changed to yet another room however the woman whom I assisted came to support me! How amazing was that? With all the changes that needed to take place, it went seemless because we all took the time to support one another and lived out the saying that “it takes a village to raise a child”, in this case sisterhood was a village of support and encouragement, and that was needed in various circumstances and situations.
Sisterhood Is Healing
While I sat in the workshop with my Fabulous Andrea the girls she had came with so much baggage and pain. You could not see it on their beautiful faces but as they shared their stories of forgiveness and unforgiveness that they carried in their hearts. Through the exercises they were able to release and let go of some of those things. When I facilitated my workshop one girl revealed a very violent act made by a family member and she felt like she could never forgive them. At that moment when she revealed that, I could see that a door was unlocked and that although she felt like she could not forgive them now, she opened the door for the possiblity for forgiveness to come in and that is the beginning of healing. I even had my moment for release of healing when I co-facilitated The Power of Sisterhood I cried in the arms of one of the elders who talked about being adopted and thanking her birth mother for giving her up because her life has been amazing and to share that with others is a blessing. I connected with that and I released that same feeling I had. So for that , I felt Sisterhood is Healing.
Sisterhood Is Love and Power
As I walked through the halls of the venue and I had my ears tuned into what the young women were saying as I passed. Some expressed how tired they were but the majority of them were glad they were there and they talked about how they felt like it was changing them. I went into the auditorium to listen to the keynote address that would be given by Misty Copeland, one of the few African American Ballerinas in the American Ballet company. Before the keynote address the girls had the opportunity to share what they had learned so far. I was so encouraged to hear that the girls were inspired to inspire each other, that was a powerful revelation. Some also shared their experience and got emotional. Listening to them I could not help but feel the love and appreciation they felt from the day and for the facilitators and leaders they had already encountered. We were there to serve them, but at that point they were serving us. There was an activity we did for the power of sisterhood and we stood face to face with one another and shared something we were stuggling with. I had a young woman who shared some advice with me that was truly helpful with what I was struggling with. I was so appreciative of what she offered. That showed that the power we were giving to them they were already giving back! To top that off which I believe was the most magical and powerful part of the day was when a group of young boys saw all of us and were inspired by the energy that the young ladies exhibited. They wrote wishes for the young women to continue to be the light they saw radiating through them and the women. I was so touched and overwhelmed with the confidence and the recognition they gave to the girls and women, and it really showed that as young men they indeed had the ability to recognize the beauty on the inside of those lovely young women. It also showed that these young men saw these young women for who they are in the inside and not the outside, which was amazing. I believe that was a boost of confidence to the young women that as long as they continue the work, the inner work on themselves others will notice them from the inside out. Those young men and the inspiration of the young women was not only inspiring it showed the true essence of love and power of the day.
Sisterhood Is Connection
Throughout the day I was able to meet, connect and reconnect with people I had not known and some that I have not seen in years. One of the women I met was the woman I facilitated with . She has a charm school for young women and she offered that we do some work together. I also reconnected with a high school classmate who is interested in doing work with young women as well. Even sitting in the audience and enjoying the keynote address from Misty Copeland, The Rhyme Like a Girl women, the founder of Black Girls Rock , it was powerful to see all these amazing black womem come together and share with each other amd lend their talents gifts and abilities was just remarkable. I also met the young woman, Zewiditu Jewel who started the “A Tea Takeover”and started a movement of girls and women who wanted to make change within fashion and activism. I met some of the facilitators who are doing great things in the city and in the world. I was inspired and felt completely blessed to be in the space with such women and to now have a connection with them. Without being connected to Akua, I would not have had the opportunity to be connected with these women.
Everything is relative and you have to be ready for when opportunity comes but more importantly you must know that everything has a divine order to it. The power of connecting with other women with like minds charges the atmosphere amd produces greatness. That is the true depiction of this years summit. Overall, the summit exceeded what I thought it would be. More importantly it was the start of my life In and On Purpose. I want to take an opportunity to showcase some of the phenomenal women I met:
Akua Sodawa Founder of Gye Nyame Empowerment Project : http://www.empowermegnep.org
Zewiditu Jewel Founder of A Tea Takeover : http://www.ateatakeover.wix.com
Raeven Western Founder of Pushy Dreamers:www.pushydreamers.com
To get full details of the day check out Gnep’s website and be sure to follow them on Twitter @EmpowerMeGNEP
I hope you all enjoyed the blog and the inspiration of the experience I had in interacting with the women that I met. Dont forget to like and follow My blog and follow me on Twitter at @InSXSIouT and , check out my website http://www.TakimaHowze.weebly.com. I will chat with you soon in the week as I continue to be SXSI in the City!
Signed One SXSI Lady