Being apart of the women's meeting, I looked forward to being on the other side; preparing the poem, scenarios, and linking arms questions in order to relate with the women on not just a surface level. Last year as a student I felt empowered and this time around the meeting made me recognize that I was not alone in this world. This year I could really distinguish which activities sparked the most emotion and fear - a natural feeling when adjusting to college life and it's challenges. It took a bit for the women to lighten up but after mentors jumped in and added their insight, the ladies felt comfortable.
I believe its very important to talk about the societal issues women deal with on an equal level and not as facilitators to women because regardless the title we all have, women will all encounter the same pressures from society. It was imperative this workshop was woman to woman; it allowed honesty and comfort. Looking back to my workshop I realized how much that type of session helped me feel comfortable in my setting, skin, and surroundings because the main goal was to make these women feel comfortable with who they spent their summer with and who they confided in... AOP continues to recognize that education isn’t just in your T-9 calculator, heavy textbooks, and 8 AM lectures at Newton; its what students take away and remember the most about confronting real life situations in workshops like the gender meeting.
For the young men of the Access Opportunity Program, this meeting was meant to inform them on what it is like to be a man in modern society and media. Understanding common misconceptions on gender, gave awareness to how we can alter the way we perceive one another.
Throughout this confidential meeting, student were told to "hold nothing back" when discussing stereotypes. This made the overall discussion more honest and comforting for the young men involved. We were able to discuss issues on and off campus involving sex and gender, in a safe and accepting environment. The relevance of these issues was made clear, so students could view the meeting as a learning experience.
This year's gender meeting was eye-opening for students and educators, a-like. Bonding over the way society views gender, gave all the men of AOP the ability to see through new perspectives.