Givology Hong Kong's Blog

Interview with Chelsea Hackett on Give Her A Voice

[b]"We call upon our sisters around the world to be brave to embrace the strength within themselves and realize their full potential." -Malala Yousafzai[/b]
Through its [url=]Give Her A Voice[/url] program, Starfish One by One, our grassroots partner in Guatemala, is on pace to building deep wells of resiliency in each Girl Pioneer it supports. We were thrilled to have the chance to talk with Chelsea Hackett, a leader of [url=]Give Her A Voice[/url], and learn more about vocal empowerment and Chelsea's experiences.
[b]What distinguishes [url=]Give Her A Voice[/url] from other projects centered on women’s empowerment?[/b]
[b]Chelsea Hackett:[/b] Beyond what Beth has outlined, I feel that one of the greatest strengths of our project is that it builds on a quality that radiates from every Starfish mentor: Joy. Through workshops that allow for fun and play, everyone is encouraged to stretch their boundaries and see themselves do the unexpected. It begins with making strange noises and playing what appear to be silly games. These games all lead up to theatrical interventions, which ask participants to imagine a new future. The joy of the games prepares participants to think creatively about ways in which they could overcome the obstacles they face everyday, and to take the leap of rehearsing those solutions in a safe space. The hope is not to directly apply those solutions the next day, but rather to continue to foster an environment where the perception of what is comfortable is constantly expanding. Through the laughter, joy, and fun that the project encourages, the girls are able to see new sides of each other and themselves.
[b]How did you determine the focus of the [url=]Give Her A Voice[/url] curriculum?[/b]
[b]Chelsea Hackett:[/b] Theatre is dialogue, so any program based in theatre and hoping to utilize its power has to also be Dialogical. We have maintained a constant dialogue with the starfish administration, mentors, and girls about the efficacious of the program. While Beth and I bring our own expertise as theatre practitioners, we respect and honor the fact that Starfish and the girls are the experts when it comes to their needs. We bring down curriculum that draws from a long history of theatre training methods and applied theater programs, including Theatre of the Oppressed, vocal warm ups, and Playbuilding methods. However, the program is adaptive to whatever happens when we are in the room. Like all improvisation, it works because of the preparation, and flexibility.
[b]What would a typical vocal empowerment workshop entail?[/b]
[b]Chelsea Hackett:[/b] After warming up with vocal and physical exercises, the girls play some select games to build relationships within the group and begin to step out of their comfort zone. They they begin to identify challenges that they face on a daily basis, things such as peer pressures, balancing home and school responsibilities, and facing the challenges of young relationships. After these obstacles are chosen, they are brought into the theatrical space, where a scene is shown and the main starfish girl rehearses a solution to her challenge. Imagine one young woman playing a parent, asking another girl to do her chores instead of her homework, as another girl plays the younger sibling in the corner. The Starfish girl then tries to explain to her “mother” why her homework is important and how she could still help in the house later. At points the group laughs at the girl imitating a younger sibling, or another imitating a mother with stern words and fierce logic. Maybe a solution is discovered; maybe it is couched for another day. The strength comes both in finding tangible solutions for daily issues, and the very act of attempting to do so. Regardless of the outcome, all three girls leave the theatrical space knowing that they area capable of being something other than what they are now.
[b]How does [url=]Give Her A Voice[/url] reach out to the community and target Mayan girls?[/b]
[b]Chelsea Hackett:[/b] As a part of Starfish, this program has the unique opportunity to take place in an organization that has worked to build deep roots in the community. The staff consists of native Mayan women and men who are well aware of the obstacles that the girls face. Their passion is what makes this program work. Beyond working in the mentorships with starfish girls, a goal for the next year is to begin touring a small troupe of starfish graduates to local community centers and parent meetings to present a theatre piece that explores what it means to be a Mayan woman.
[b]What is empowerment to you?[/b]
[b]Chelsea Hackett:[/b] To me empowerment is choice. The ability to see choices, and to know that you can walk confidently in the direction of whatever you choose. It is also the knowledge that “failure” is an opening for a new choice to be made, not a regression.
[b]What are your focus priorities for [url=]Give Her A Voice[/url] in 2014?[/b]
[b]Chelsea Hackett:[/b] In 2014 I hope to work more intimately with starfish to begin to develop a devised theatre piece with some of the starfish graduates. This will be my longest stint working with starfish, as I will be living in Guatemala for two months to develop, rehearse, and tour an original performance. My hope is that this will be a branch from the deep roots Beth and I have been building with starfish for years.
[b]What is the most rewarding part of leading [url=]Give Her A Voice[/url]?[/b]
[b]Chelsea Hackett:[/b] I am in awe of the strength and dedication that the starfish mentors bring to their work every day. Beth and I have been deliberate in working mainly with the mentors as capacity building is the most sustainable way to build change. I am constantly filled with joy and love after leaving our work with the mentors as I watch them dedicate their lives to building opportunities for girls in their community.

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