On Tuesday, April 22nd and Wednesday, April 23rd, the EFLI team traveled to Boston, MA to host a Women and Leadership Festival on Boston University (BU)’s campus as part of “ETC,” EFLI’s campus programming initiative. Through ETC, EFLI follows the energy of former participants as they graduate high school and enter college. Melina Indrasena, a 2011 EFLI Fellow, identified a need at BU for deepened connection and community on her campus. Wanting to affect change in her college community, Mel thought EFLI might be able to help. After numerous phone calls, campus visits and brainstorm sessions with a diverse planning group of BU students, EFLI engaged on this journey with Mel and BU to share some of its practices and tools, learn from one another and collaboratively address some of BU’s needs with tailored workshops. Here’s what happened...
The 8-workshop festival kicked off with games that encouraged attendees to lean into confusion and practice challenging the norm. With arts and crafts supplies, they continued into creating a map of the BU community and charted where women leaders are and are not safe and supported.
At lunchtime, a vibrant group of students engaged in a World Cafe discussion to dig deeper into BU’s campus climate. They discussed feminine leadership and how it plays out on campus and in our lives. The conversation took on a life of its own as it ventured into discussion about gender-based double standards and the policing of women’s sexuality.
In the evening, two BU alumnae, Jackie Douglas of Livable Streets and Danielle Gagnon, a former EFLI workshop facilitator, joined EFLI to share their insights on being women leaders in Boston. They spoke to their (unexpected) life paths, personal leadership styles and challenges of being a woman in the workplace. They ended the session by facilitating useful skill builders dealing with team dynamics and mapping personal “social atoms.” After the session, EFLI facilitators had the opportunity to hang out with the Vice President of Her House and were excited to see alignment between our communities!
The next day, the group welcomed the day bright and early with yoga led by Katherine Bradshaw. Having grounded themselves with intentions for the day, they picked up the pace at lunchtime with a Speed Networking Lunch. Students from many different areas of campus life participated and at the end, crafted and exchanged original business cards. In the second half of the lunch, the group moved into prototyping ways of harnessing collective wisdom and resources on campus. The result? The “Auditory Adventure,” an anonymous mix CD swap.
From 3-5pm, Katy Rubin and Katherine Bradshaw introduced the group to the intersection between Nonviolent Communication and Theatre of the Oppressed. The group laughed a lot, played with the stories that we hold and project and explored how we might create change within them.
Finally, the program culminated in a closing session on Wednesday evening. Using journaling and other arts-based activities, the group reflected on the EFLI@BU experience and tied their experiences into the theme of leadership, specifically exploring the leadership archetypes of sovereign, lover, warrior and magician.
Participants expressed feeling less alone, “healthier,” and energized to take next steps by the end of the 8 workshops. EFLI is grateful to the BU community for welcoming us onto their campus and looks forward to deepening our relationship and returning soon!