Givology Hong Kong's Blog

Interview with Dr. Beth Osnes on Give Her A Voice

[b]"Pioneers may be picturesque figures, but they are often rather lonely ones."[/b]

For over five years, [url=]Starfish[/url], our partner in Guatemala, has strived to make quality education accessible to Mayan girls it supports. Starfish hopes to answer this question: [b]“What heights would women in Guatemala reach if they possessed an education, key knowledge and had an empowered voice before they started their families?”[/b] [url=]Give Her A Voice[/url], which hopes to fortify Starfish’s Girl Pioneers by helping them unlock their empowered voices, is a program that will answer this question. This past week, we were able to interview Dr. Beth Osnes, a professor at the University of Colorado, about her role in leading [url=]Give Her A Voice[/url]. Dr. Beth Osnes is an expert on promoting positive learning, peer support, and active voice through theatrical techniques.
[b]What distinguishes Give Her A Voice from other projects centered on women’s empowerment?[/b]
This project directly focuses on the strength, confidence and skills for a Starfish pioneer’s voice. We start by strengthening and expanding the expressive range of the physical voice. Once a girl experiences her own voice as strong and expressive, she is challenged to reexamine her own idea of her public voice and to begin the long process of undoing internalized oppression. We then put that strong voice into her societal context so she can identify obstacle to her using her strong voice. We use interactive theater techniques to support the girls in devising multiple solutions to their own obstacles. The entire process helps the girls empower themselves by facilitating them in identifying obstacles and devising their own solutions. This leads to heightened awareness of themselves within their society. It recognizes them as the experts who can balance likely gains with costs for new social behaviors as they chart a new path for Mayan girls.
[b]How did you determine the focus of the Give Her A Voice curriculum?[/b]
We came in extremely prepared when we first worked with the Starfish staff, but we listened deeply to them, and in the end, truly co-created this curriculum with them. As we progress, we continue in this way, researching and preparing, but then being ready to authentically improvise the best format for the students with the expert Starfish staff.
[b]What would a typical vocal empowerment workshop entail?[/b]
It entails lots of vocal and physical exercises and games designed to support girls in strengthening their voices and expanding their expressive ranges. The entire body is seen as the instrument for the voices so we do a lot of exercises to integrate the voice and the body. We also guide the students in critically engaging with the current story of a Mayan girl’s voice, and to imagine their most audacious dreams for their voices. We then work with the students for them to identify any obstacles to their voice and, together through interactive theater, rehearse a variety of ways to overcome these obstacles.
[b]How does Give Her A Voice reach out to the community and target Mayan girls?[/b]
It specifically addresses the challenges that these girls self-identify as pressing for them. It supports them in using their voices to reach their dreams.
[b]What is empowerment to you?[/b]
To me empowerment is having the belief in yourself as someone able to chose, think, speak and act for what you believe in. It is the confidence to actualize your dreams to the best of your ability.
[b]What are your focus priorities for Give Her A Voice in 2014?[/b]
My goal is to continue with the capacity building for the mentors who are at the core of everything Starfish does--giving these powerful women the tools they need to facilitate their students in empowering their own voices.
[b]What is the most rewarding part of leading Give Her A Voice?[/b]
Seeing the amazing progress is by far the most rewarding part. Also the level of commitment evident in the entire Starfish community sustains and energizes me in this work.
[b][url=]Just $350 is needed to defray the costs of Give Her A Voice! To donate to Give Her A Voice, click here.[/url][/b]

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