Unlike most things in quarantine, my involvement with the Strong Women Fellows has not slowed or even skipped a beat. In the past month, I’ve helped facilitate three meetings to create our annual end-of-the-year video in collaboration with VOX ATL, a nonprofit organization centered around uncensored (but edited!) content for teens by teens. This included shooting videos, writing emails, and figuring out which room in my house was quietest for Zoom calls.
This whole experience has been a far cry from what I’ve found at school; in one class, I haven’t even seen or talked to my teacher since the shut-down began. This means no calls, no recordings, nothing — just a few weekly assignments to do ourselves. Suffice to say, I don’t lean back on my community at school for support. Luckily, I have another option.
When I initially applied for this Fellowship in 2018, I had no idea what to expect. For one thing, it was brand-new; I was part of the first cohort of Strong Woman and there certainly wasn’t a video for me to watch and see what I was getting myself into! Secondly, I didn’t have a prominent Jewish community in the suburbs where I lived (hence why I applied), and I didn’t know if I would arrive at meetings as an outsider or not. There are few times in my life where I can say with absolute joy that I was wrong, and this is one of them. Everything was done with the fellows in mind and in top priority; the date and location of each meeting changed monthly to accommodate everyone’s busy schedules. To me, it meant I matter, and furthermore so do my opinions. You see, this past year, a middle-ground was found with meetings on Sunday afternoon in a central location (I was very happy to learn I wouldn’t have to drive downtown on a weekday anymore).
The reason for the change says everything about the program: They asked what we thought, and they listened. It’s the same motto that drives VOX and after spending an afternoon filming there last year, it’s the reason why both my brother and I joined as teen staff. And it’s the reason I spend my quarantine with VOX and Srtong Women extraordinaire’s Rachel Alterman Wallack, Tibria Brown, Emma Mac, Annie Fortnow, and the rest of the Fellows, working on a video that encapsulates everyone’s experience. We spent hours discussing ways to incorporate different aspects of the program, from the journals we write in at the end of each meeting to the guest speakers we listened to. We tackled filming at home and learning how to be our best camerawomen — no easy feat, I might add! Keeping the camera steady has never seemed so difficult.
Although most of my life has come to a halt, the Strong Women Fellowship continues to keep me connected, one Zoom call at a time.
Interested in next year’s Strong Women Fellowship? Apply here: https://jumpsparkatl.org/events/strong-women-fellowship/