Our main focus at Global G.L.O.W. this week was preparing for our upcoming summit. Global G.L.O.W. hosts regional summits all over America with the intent of connecting girls with mentors and providing them with the tools and skills they need to become leaders within their communities. I was given the task of devising a lesson plan on a CAP (Community Action Plan…we’re big on acronyms at Global G.L.O.W.). The objective of a CAP is to encourage girls to address the issues women and girls face in their communities and strategize proactive ways to solve these problems.
I began the lesson with infamous lecture style rhetorical questions about defining community to get the girls’ gears turning about what the word “community” actually means. I often find myself using words so frequently I advertently neglect their true meaning, and I wanted to make sure that the girls had a firm grasp on what “community” actually meant before diving head first into this activity. I figured rhetorical questions would not be riveting enough to get the girls excited about their CAP, so I opted for something different. As a neuroscience major, I am always excited to try to incorporate the things I’ve learned into different aspects of my life that I am also passionate about, and I figured this lesson plan was the perfect opportunity to do so. Priming is a practice that can subconsciously alter the way we relate specific cues to each other. Semantic priming is a technique that uses the introduction of a particular word stimulus to influence how people respond to subsequent stimuli. So, I used this as inspiration for a word association task designed to help modify how the girls could relate the word community to words that would evoke more emotional responses such as the words “neighborhoods”, “advocacy,” and “shared interests.”
I became fearful that my feeble attempt at intertwining neuroscience with my CAP lesson would amount in epic failure, so I took a break and decided to do some data entries. I figured completing other tasks on my to-do list instead of my most pressing task was a proactive form of procrastination and quelling my qualms. I was entering responses on retrospective surveys from past programs, and while doing so I continued to question whether or not my abstract attempt at employing something I learned in lecture months ago would actually work and if the girls could actually take something away from my activity. I got to the very bottom of my first survey and read a question that was something along the lines of “How has this program changed you?” and the response was “It made me more confident.” Subsequent responses mentioned “discovering girl power” and becoming more comfortable with speaking out about the things they care about. Something about these responses flipped a switch in my brain. It didn’t really matter if my pseudo-experiment would work. My job was to build their confidence and equip them with what they needed to advocate for change. This revelation gave me the momentum I needed to blow through the rest of my lesson plan and craft it in a way that would guide their thought processes. I incorporated questions about how to change their communities into their ideal communities and encouraged them to think through the steps they would need to take in order to enact these changes. As ironic as this sounds, the process of crafting this lesson plan was a learning experience for me as well. I learned that the greatest takeaway I could provide the girls at the summit with was a way to discover their girl power and the direct impact it could have on their communities.