By Naomi Chick, Former Mentor and Julia Hunter, Editorial Intern
As the car door opened, and the workers at Omega Institute greeted me and took my luggage, I looked around and was surrounded by green. After living in Boston, I was amazed at how much nature was surrounding me, and how many friendly people there were, asking me how I was. After checking in my luggage, and checking in, I took a small trip around the campus, and was yet again in awe of how peaceful everyone seemed to be. A beautiful garden, sanctuary, library, and café were all around me, and I didn’t know where to go first!
The first night, after a welcome orientation, about 20 teens, including myself, met with Rachel Simmons, world-renowned author of Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls, and The Curse of the Good Girl: Raising Authentic Girls with Courage and Confidence. We were all here for her workshop, “Say What You Mean, Be Who You Are.” No shoes allowed. No shoes? So comfortable! Sitting on the floor in a circle, cross-legged, talking openly, and learning how to communicate was refreshing, and something I was certainly open to.
The next morning, the workshop continued and we were able to go deeper to learn more about conflict, techniques of communicating correctly, and really getting across what you MEAN to say, instead of hiding true meaning in words. As I looked around the circle of girls, I realized how many of them were really looking to communicate correctly, and that they were beginning to realize how to determine the bad and good people in their lives. It was eye opening how vulnerable these girls were, and how willing they were to tell their stories.
After two more workshops, a few relaxing showers, scoops of ice cream, and walks through the garden, the weekend was over. My trip back to Boston was completely filled with me thinking about how to properly communicate not only with personal relationships, but with professional ones as well. I looked forward to completing small goals I had made for myself during the workshop. All the small things I was nervous to do, such as asking my boss to identify my positive and negative work qualities, I now realized I was able to ask correctly. I can honestly say that I left Omega with a new sense of myself, and a new ability to fully communicate with everyone. I’m grateful to Omega for such a rich learning opportunity.
I had never heard of the Omega Institute before I attended Rachel Simmons’ workshop, “Say What You Mean, Be Who You Are.” After doing some online research, I had the impression that Omega is a beautiful place frequented by those who do yoga regularly. It sounded interesting but not necessarily my ‘thing.’ Still, the workshop intrigued me, as did their new women’s leadership initiative, so I decided to go. And I’m so glad I did.
Although Omega did have a fair number of yoga practitioners, it was much more than I imagined. I met young women who are interested in the same things I am and who care about girls’ and women’s leadership. Rachel Simmons’ workshop was relaxed and captivating. As we did a variety of activities both introspective and interactive, I learned a lot about myself, as well as the other young women who participated. It was unique to be primarily in a workshop environment comprised almost entirely of young women my age who care about many of the same things I do, and then for other activities, to join with a larger community of men and women of different ages.
I was excited to learn about Omega’s new Women’s Leadership Center. From the vision statement, I’m excited to see what will come of the new initiative. The founders imagine a world where: “Women and girls are valued for their full human potential, live in safety, and are free to express themselves and contribute meaningfully in all spheres of life. Men and boys are free to express the full range of human qualities, including masculine and feminine qualities, and share equitably with women and girls in life’s responsibilities and joys at home, at work, and in the world. Our global society fosters nurturing and mutual relationships, healthy families and communities, and a peaceful, just, and sustainable world—for everybody.”
This vision for the future is one that many would say is impossible to achieve, but it is exactly what organizations like Teen Voices—and people like me—imagine and work for every day. Through its workshops and other initiatives such as the Global Change Scholars and the conference on Women and Power in September, the Omega Institute is both teaching and proving that our world doesn’t need to be one where girls and boys have to learn sexism and hate; instead, it can be one of opportunity and equality.
For more information about the Omega Institute, visit their website: http://www.eomega.org
To learn more about the Omega’s Women Leadership Center and its upcoming events, visit: http://eomega.org/omega-in-action/key-initiatives/omega-womens-leadership-center/