This year, I’ve had the honor to be the 2018 Moxie Intern for Women AdvaNCe. My relationship with the organization comes from my placement with the Moxie Project, a program through the Carolina Women’s Center. The Moxies have a long history with Women AdvaNCe, including our peer-to-peer coordinator Clara Femia, who was once a Moxie herself. I’m so glad that I was able to continue this amazing summer tradition.
I’m a rising senior at UNC with a double major in English and Women’s and Gender Studies with a minor in Creative Writing. I came to this position with the goal of using creativity and communication to empower women in the state and connect my classwork and artistic work with activism.
One of the most fulfilling projects that I’ve been working on this summer has been the planning of a slam poetry event for the 2018 NC Women’s Summit in November. I got my start in slam poetry, competing in my first competition at age 10, so this event is very near and dear to my heart. Art and language are so vital to activism. They allow us to explore our identities, connect with others, and express the challenges of living within an oppressive structure.
I have also been able to use my writing skills many times this summer writing for our website. I’ve written articles about topics I care about deeply, such as chronic illness, immigration, and rape culture. Women AdvaNCe has given me a platform to explain my perspective on many feminist issues that are culturally relevant and personally important to me. That opportunity cannot be understated, especially for young women.
My final big project this summer was putting together an interview with Dr. Rachel Seidman, the Director of the Southern Oral History Program, and Emily Hagstrom, who recently graduated from UNC and is also a former Moxie. The video is still on Facebook for those who didn’t watch it live. I’m very proud of the questions that Joy and I put together and the insightful answers our interviewees were able to give us. It was a great opportunity to examine the generational divides in activism and discuss them honestly so that young activists like Joy and I can feel assured in our steps forward. Above all, we believe in having our voices heard at Women AdvaNCe, and I’ve been able to embody this principle in so many different ways this summer.
In addition to just speaking up and using our creative minds, Joy and I also got to attend many important and influential events as representatives of Women AdvaNCe. Our first week on the job, we attended the NC Status of Women Report event at Alamance Community College, where we were able to see how women in NC are faring economically this year in comparison with previous years. The results were eye-opening, but being in the same room as so many powerful women leaders gave me hope for the future.
We also attended the ERA Advocacy Day at the NC General Assembly. Joy and I lobbied our representatives in support of the Equal Rights Amendment, which would give women equal protection under the Constitution. We noticed that we were two of the youngest people there and took note of the role that young people play in well-established advocacy organizations. Women AdvaNCe is still a relatively new organization, and while our leadership team has a wealth of experience to learn from, we were able to shape the organization as much as it shaped us.
Because Joy and I come from different schools, we were also able to take field trips with the staff to visit our respective schools. In Chapel Hill, where I live, we visited the Campus Y and met with Dr. Seidman and Sara Wood at the Love House. Then we visited Pembroke, where Joy goes to school, and met with representatives from the Lumbee tribe. We’re looking forward to making many more connections with folks from across the state to engage with needs in different communities and do what we can to support them.
While my summer at Women AdvaNCe is coming to an end, I know that I’ve left my mark on the organization. I also plan on continuing working on the planning for the poetry event in the fall and becoming an active part of the writer’s collective.
I’ve learned so much this summer, and I’ll be able to take that with me into everything I do going forward.