*Over the last couple of months I have shared pieces written by those I took to Washington D.C. to participate in the Girl Up Leadership Summit. This final share was written by my 13 year old niece.*
When my aunt, Amelia Old, informed me about and invited me to the Girl Up Leadership Summit, I was ecstatic! I was going to be able to not only go to Washington DC for the first time, but I was also going to be able to attend a conference on how to make a change. When I walked in the first day, I was greeted by one of the lovely teen advisors who gave me the directions to get to the room in which the summit would take place. I was very surprised about the very unique set up of the room. There must have been 50 tables and the stage had two purple chairs and a matching couch. It also had a large screen behind the stage and two TVs on either side. These were mainly used to show tweets throughout the day that were written by the girls in the audience using #GirlUp16. I was greeted by my table mates and a wonderful breakfast. I was luckily given a table in the front!
At 9:00a.m. we were greeted by two emcees who introduced Kathy Calvin, the President and CEO of the United Nations Foundation. After a nice speech, she introduced Abhilasha Damor, the Peer Educator for UNFPA India. She spoke to us about the difficulties that occur in her country and the issue of child marriage.
We then participated in a trivia challenge and moved on to workshops. I really enjoyed the workshops because I got to discover more of the issues that affect girls like me in other countries. I attended a workshop discussing Girl Up’s Focus Countries and UN Partners. After lunch, we heard from a series of speakers, including more Girl Up club leaders, the amazing Ashley Graham, model and body activist, and Andrea Gonzales, the Co-Creator of the Tampon Run app.
I then attended a very creative workshop where I decorated a banana as a form of expression and creativity. This was by far my favorite because of the silly and unique topic! The next workshop was a very relaxing yoga class. This was very nice and soothing and was also my first yoga experience. Afterwards, we listened to a poetry slam and heard from Blackish star Yara Shahidi about her studies and her Girl Up support.To wrap up the day Kate Gilmore, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, spoke to us about her hope for the future.
The rest of my experience in Washington DC and with the Girl Up Leadership Summit was amazing and awesome! I was able to hear from more speakers including Monique Coleman and Dr. Jen Welter. We met with staff of Congress on the final day. Everyone we met with were so proud of the work we were doing and were impressed with our level of confidence. I definitely look forward to attending the next summit and revisiting the fabulous Washington DC! I would like to thank the staff and all of the speakers of the summit and of course my aunt for the wonderful opportunity and experience.