August 7 2017

Sisterhood: a constant conversation trying to define what it means and how it looks like. Reality is everyone has their own meaning of sisterhood, and to me it represents In Lak’ech-, which means to find my other me.

Society engraves the importance and need to compete with one another, however, I have learned we need to love and appreciate one another. We are our own reflections of one another. Attending the Sisterhood Rising Leadership Retreat for the third time made me realize, that it doesn’t matter what we look like, what we wear, it doesn’t matter where we come from or what we are, if we hold space for one another we create transformational space.

Creating a space that can impact a young person’s life or even vision can be done in a short amount of time, that’s transformative. A space like Sisterhood Rising means the world to me because a lot of us come from a male dominant culture where young girls are taught to repress our own feelings. Society creates a place and time for our girls and women of color to speak.

Before attending Sisterhood Rising I didn’t know how to love myself. I didn’t know what it felt like to be a leader in my own community. I came to the realization that I was a lotus, rising above and blossoming into the leader I now am. Sisterhood Rising allowed me to unwind and let my true colors shine.

Third times always a charm, isn’t that the saying? I was honored and privileged to work alongside amazing mujeres to create a week long safe environment for about 80 young people. I was able to be part of the planning process to make sure that there was a youth presence, opinion and ideas in decision making and it was remarkable.

Coming in aware the young girls attending might come from broken homes and/or broken communities, I wanted to make sure that we all created a safe space not only for the week, but also within their Building Healthy Communities (BHC) site.

Stepping into this space, my personal vision and goals of what I wanted this space to become were not crystal clear, but as soon as the participants walked through the doors and I saw their faces I knew exactly what I wanted to accomplish that week. I wanted to make sure that these girls had a week to truly remember, to embrace and love themselves, and remind them that they will always be enough. I was aiming to make this week memorable because when I came my first year those were the things I wanted to leave with, knowing how to love myself and how to become one within myself.

During the retreat, I was amazed to see the young people embrace the true leaders that they are. Throughout the week, I began to see many amazing, loving girls let down their masks and show everyone their true colors. I was able to connect with them and I was able to truly see what we share the same struggles and those struggles don’t define who we are or what we will accomplish.

However, these stories will always be a part of us and one day we’ll look back and remember what our sister shared with us, “Just like the lotus, we too have the ability to rise from the mud, bloom out of the darkness and radiate into the world”.  In that moment, I realized that if only I had a space like this when I was in high school I would’ve learned to love myself at a younger age rather than waiting until now to learn what self-love is like, that I matter, and I am not ordinary.

The participants were able to create and refine the meaning of sisterhood among themselves. To see them hold space for one another left me speechless, because they didn’t realize that they were rising above and blossoming into a courageous leader. Stepping out of this space, I felt like I accomplished so much more than what I had envisioned. I was reminded why i’m in the movement and rekindled my love for organizing.

The first time I attended Sisterhood Rising was in 2015, I was like a lotus terrified of letting my guard down, horrified with the idea of blossoming into the powerful and courageous leader that I have now become. Now three years later I rose from the mud and disparity to break through the box that I was pushed into by society, just to find myself helping other young female identified women do the same. Sisterhood Rising was created for young girls to finally step out of the box that society puts them in, for some of these young women, Sisterhood Rising is the only space that makes them feel capable of breaking through that small box.