My name is Corinne Pingul and I am proud to be Y-WE’s AmeriCorps member this year! My official title with Y-WE is Economic Opportunity Program Coordinator. I work to help make the program logistics run smoothly and I also help Y-WE provide meaningful job readiness resources for our participants.
AmeriCorps asks that all members submit quarterly “Stories of Service” that highlight special moments that we experience in our placements with them for their blog. As I finish up my first, I thought I would share all my “Stories of Service” with you! Below is my first entry that focuses on my introduction to Y-WE and the amazing growing opportunities I have had so far. Enjoy!
To be honest, I hadn’t considered joining AmeriCorps before finding Young Women Empowered (Y-WE). Through the stressful and intimidating job search that followed my recent graduation from college, I stumbled upon the AmeriCorps position at Y-WE. I was immediately moved by their mission to empower young women to become leaders in their own lives, their schools, and their communities. As I learned more, I became increasingly inspired by the powerhouse women who work and volunteer for the organization and became convinced that this was where I wanted to be.
Now, almost four months later, I am so happy to be a part of this community. Not only am I learning about working with youth and as a Program Coordinator, I am building lasting relationships. I am a mentor and a mentee. I am a teacher and a student. The young women, mentors, and staff in our program create the space where we can improve our leadership skills together, finding our strength and our voice in the process. We learn from and with each other, bringing a diverse array of perspectives that mirror the diversity of our experiences.
I most recently had the opportunity to co-lead a workshop at Y-WE Lead that focused on media literacy. Our small group got to watch the extended trailer of the documentary, MissRepresentation. After we watched the 10 minute trailer we spent time discussing our reactions to the film and to the ways women are inadequately represented in mainstream media. During moments of the discussion, the anger and frustration in the room was palpable. The youth asked questions that have been swarming around my own head since I had seen the documentary for the first time in college.
Why are there so little opportunities for us to see complex female characters in movies and television? Why are women in politics not taken seriously and still judged by the way they look, while their male counterparts are acknowledged for their leadership? What power do we have in changing the messages that we get?
We bounced between discussing topics of media conglomerates and the limited number of female voices in the media, objectification of the female body especially for advertising, and ways we can combat the inadequate representation of women in our popular culture. We brainstormed that we can make a concerted effort to be aware of the media we consume, to seek out empowering media sources, and to speak out when we see women misrepresented. It was such a rich discussion and a powerful experience for me to be able to share my passion for media literacy with young women in our program. It is my hope that this opportunity has given them the tools to continue this dialog and I look forward to having the opportunity to continue to participate in it with them.