Continually Absorbing as the Last Month Approaches
Checking in with the online world yet again!
It has been a whirlwind few months, sending critical thinking into overdrive, and as I have told friends and family, I think that only through hindsight will I truly be able to process this internship experience in its entirety.
Here is an idea of the work I have been doing and events Isis International has been participating in since late November 2010:
- Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines (STRAP) http://www.tsphilippines.com/ gathered at Bahay ni Isis (the Isis house, which is both our office and a resource centre) to commemorate the Transgender Day of Remembrance to remember and pay respect to the individuals around the world who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice over the past year.
- During the 16 Days of Activism to end gender-based violence, we shared information on the advocacy work being done by our past Activist School participants from over a dozen different countries in Southeast Asia and across the globe, through our Facebook notes. http://www.facebook.com/notes.php?id=119927721368787¬es_tab=app_2347471856
- CAPI Co-interns Leah Staples and Sabrina Buzzalino and I along with Isis staff and friends of Isis participated in the annual Manila Pride Parade (this year's theme was "One Love") with our massive rainbow umbrellas and even did a grandeur walk down the catwalk to represent our organization!
- In preparation for our 5-day Activist School on Young Feminist Leadership (YFL), I was the main correspondent, and continue to keep up communications with past participants from all the schools, relaying audio, photos and summaries from the Isis media team, who is attending the UN Commission on the Status of Women in New York City.
- Leah and I co-facilitated a session at the YFL Activist School, entitled, "Working Towards Creating Positive Spaces For Learning" in order to ensure that the proceedings would be anti-oppressive and open for deep discussions, regardless of our multiple identities. The week was a great success in this regard, as everyone felt safe and open to personal sharing, and developed meaningful relationships as a result.
- Following the 5-day workshop, Isis hosted a 3-day convening for the Global Fund for Women, where we transcribed the proceedings, recorded audio and video as well as photos, as the women discussed organizational monitoring, evaluation and funding strategies and learned more about one another's organizations and advocacy work.
- In continual work, I have been updating our social media sites including Isis' Facebook, Youtube and Twitter. As a member of Isis' Gender, Communications and Democracy, I am also contributing research and strategies towards Isis' Peace Project, in an effort to bridge the gaps between government bodies, media personnel and grassroots women's organizations surrounding conflict and peace-building through surveys, capacity building workshops and intersectional forums and panel discussions. It will also assess and work towards improving implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325, in particular for regions facing ongoing conflict, such as Mindanao, Philippines.
Over the past few months, I have gained a lot of insight into the limitations of many organizations in achieving their aims due to a lack of financial resources and subsequently human resources. Alternatively, I've also come to realize that organizations with an overabundance of money and power, risk becoming bureaucratic, corporatized and disconnected from the issues on the ground for which they are advocating. My own internal work experience in addition to gatherings such as the Global Fund for Women convening hosted by Isis, has allowed me to better understand and reflect upon the ways that funders, researchers and fundees must balance their own agendas with those of others in order to ensure a just and equal process for all stakeholders involved in NGO work.
The "Positive Space" session (introduced by Leah for the YFL Activist School, and inspired by the University of Victoria "Positive Space Network" and other universities' similar initiatives), which cultivates open-mindedness, anti-oppression and inclusion, is something in which I have found great value, not only within structured settings, but also in everyday living. I feel as though I can draw on the energy that has been created by participants and staff within the time and space of the Isis Activist Schools, and also believe that regardless of the physical places we occupy, we can embody positive spaces through our everyday interactions; by letting go of defenses and preconceptions, and simply opening our minds, truly listening, and speaking honestly.
Another group of inspirational participants with Isis staff after the completion of the five-day media tools training workshop.