Dear Incoming Class of Teen Advisors,
I remember the day I found out I would be a Girl Up Teen Advisor for the 2012-2013 school year. It was August 2, 2012, and I danced around my room to “Unwritten” by Natasha Beddingfield for almost an hour. I had been involved in Girl Up before on a school level, but I had the feeling that joining the leadership team of this UN Foundation campaign would change my life.
And it did. I joined a group of fifteen other dedicated, hardworking, intelligent girls from across the country of different backgrounds in a campaign to unify and support girls. Together, we made a difference.
Being a Teen Advisor meant a unique kind of sisterhood. I had always been a Girl Scout, which valued sisterhood in leadership above anything else, but Girl Up meant sisterhood toward a cause--toward a broader sisterhood for equal opportunity and equal access to education for girls around the world. The sixteen of us were united through Girl Up's mission.
I remember the first night in New York City at our first in-person meeting, looking around the room at fifteen strangers. I struggled to read their nametags and place a name with the face. I felt intimidated by their accomplishments.
Yet over the course of the year, through monthly webinars and two in-person meetings, I came to see all of us as individual threads in the fabric of our Teen Advisor class, each contributing our own perspective and strengths.
Some of us are organizers, others speakers, others like myself writers. All of us leaders.
It wasn't all fun and games, though. Reading articles about the difficulty with humanitarian aid, watching heart-wrenching stories about young girls just like us who were forced into marriage, and hearing about how there is still so much work to be done – those expanded my mind and made me realize the immensity of the factors working against us.
Yet we believed in girls. We believed in investing in a girl in a developing country to change the world. We believed in our own ability to raise funds and awareness to support those girls. We believed in girls.
By our second in-person meeting in March in LA, we were all fast friends. The night before departure, we left from dinner on Santa Monica Pier. The sixteen of us piled into two different vans. I remember a single glorious moment when in ours we turned up a cheesy Taio Cruz song to max volume on the radio. The pier's ferry wheel lights could be seen in the background, and at the chorus, we threw up our hands in unison. My heart swelled.
I could have sworn at that moment, our sisterhood was on the brink of changing the world for good.
I remember the day I realized my Teen Advisor term was soon ending. I looked dismally at the calendar with the looming term expiration date, unwilling to let go of the friendships, experiences, and opportunities that being a Teen Advisor has provided me.
But then I realized that a new class would be coming in. You will be the ones to take this campaign to the next level. I can only wish those same moments on Santa Monica Pier when your heart just swells.
I can only wish the same sisterhood.
Girl Up Teen Advisor
Class of 2012-2013