This is a guest post by Coco Lim, a GLOW 2017 Counselor
Campamento GLOW (Girls Leading Our World) is a week long camp for girls ages 12-17 from all over Nicaragua to discuss leadership, assertive communication, sex vs. gender, self-esteem and feminism, among other topics. I acted as a counselor along with 8 volunteers and 8 Nicaraguan counterparts for 47 campers. At the end of the camp, nearly all 47 participants expressed that the camp had a profound impact on them, and despite my role as consejera, the camp became a source of motivation, hope, and inspiration for me.
I still have not come out to my Nicaraguan counterparts that I see on a weekly basis. Yet, at this camp, as I presented a charla on Sex vs. Gender and Sexual Diversity, I told them, “Soy lesbiana. You all have treated me with respect, so why would that change now just because I love women?” One girl raised her hand and said, “It doesn’t change anything. We still respect you, we see you the same way, you’re a human, and you deserve that respect.”
During the charla on self-esteem and feminism, the girls were asked to define feminism. Initially, almost all responded saying it was an idea that women are better than men, men are incapable of doing certain tasks, and overall, it was a negative thing. The camp counselors, including myself, went on to clarify that feminism, in the simplest of terms, means that everyone deserves the same rights and respect. Feminism elevates women to the same level as men, not a level higher.
We ended the camp by marching a couple hundred feet from the auditorium to the camp’s entrance. Campers held up signs saying “Viva la Mujer“, “La futura es feminina“, and “Mi voz es importante.” Since volunteers only saw pictures of the Women’s March that happened a few days ago, it was impactful to have our very own march.
With everything going on back home, it’s easy to feel powerless. Participating in this camp validated my feelings and experience as a woman, and made me feel a tiny bit more in control. During one of the final activities, we were asked to share what word represented our camp experience. For me, I chose motivation and action. Camp reminded me that if anyone is going to change the world, it’s going to be Girls Leading Our World.
– Coco Lim
Peace Corps Nicaragua
EEP 67 GLOW 2017 Counselor
Read more about Coco’s Peace Corps service on her personal blog.