Supporting Survivors: Yoo-Jin Kang

We see you. We believe you. You matter.

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Today is our Black & Gold Rush! The Women’s Center has meant a lot to many alumni and we are lucky to have their support for this season’s fundraising campaign. For this Black and Gold Rush, we were lucky to have time with former (and current) community members. For our 2nd post, we got some stories from Yoo-Jin Kang about her love for sharing knowledge and finding support from our staff and the Women’s Center library!

yoojinTOS.pngName – Yoo-Jin Kang

UMBC Major/ Minor – BA: Modern Languages and Linguistics & BA: Interdisciplinary Studies

Hometown – Ellicott City, MD

Current Job Title/ Employer – Victim Advocate/ Hopeworks of Howard County

How did your time at the UMBC Women’s Center support your current work or career path? Through my work at the Women’s Center, I’ve had incredible opportunities to connect with the UMBC community at large in so many ways. Through leading our TBTN march to organizing identity group roundtables, I have learned with and from the community about the intersections of various identities, oppressions, and experiences. My work at the Center shaped me and allowed me to be the advocate I am today. I am always still learning and growing and have the center (among so many other programs on campus) to thank for the love and knowledge it has placed in my heart.

How would you describe your UMBC experience? You might say that I was pretty involved 🙂 My freshman year, I started off in a living-learning community through the Shriver Center, conducting community service in local Baltimore-based organizations. I am a member of the Honor’s College, Humanities Scholars Program, and Phi Mu fraternity. I played in the university orchestra, was a Peer Health Educator and Relationship Violence Prevention Advocate (RVAP), and even conducted tours as a tour guide for potential new students! My favorite place to hang out on campus was sitting outside by the lake or the library. I loved my experience at UMBC and miss it often. The community is unreal and the support I’ve received from the staff and my advisors are invaluable to me. These relationships are lifelong and have supported me through so much, both personally and professionally.

TBTN - Yoo-Jin Kang

Share a special moment from your time in the Women’s Center. How did it shape your experience as a survivor? One quiet special moment I remember from the Women’s Center as a survivor is looking through the library and finding trauma-informed, survivor-centered books about healing. At the time, I was constantly seeking resources and books that would help me put words to my experience and also provide guidance on how to move forward. There was so much I didn’t understand, and in that way, I sometimes felt alone. Through borrowing books and talking one-on-one with Jess, I found so much individualized support that I know isn’t accessible everywhere. I am so grateful.

Yoo-Jin, we are grateful for you and your bravery. We hope to continue to spread the message of #notalone and support current and future students!

UMBC Giving Day Black and Gold Rush is an inspiring example of what the UMBC community can accomplish together. If you would like to support survivors of sexual violence at UMBC, and build a coalition of supportive allies, consider giving to the Women’s Center’s GritStarter campaign during UMBC’s Giving Day this February 28th.



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Stories from Survivors – Kayla Smith

We see you. We believe you. You matter.

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“What would it mean to survivors for  the entire campus community to be behind them in their healing? What would it mean for survivors that the care we give to them is not limited to the few on campus either whose job it is to do this work, or who have taken a special, personal interest in it?”*

The Women’s Center has meant a lot to many alumni and we have their continued support for this season’s fundraising campaign. For Black and Gold Rush, we were lucky to chat with former (and current) community members about all of the ways the Women’s Center has been a useful and meaningful resources. Take some time to hear from Kayla Smith, a recent graduate, and ambassador for our Grit Starter Campaign for Survivors of Sexual Violence, and get some insight into why the Women’s Center was a big part of her UMBC experience! 

 

kaylstaffshotName – Kayla Smith

UMBC Major/ Minor – Interdisciplinary Studies – Public Health Advocacy

Hometown – Laurel, Maryland

Current Job Title/ Employer – J.D. Candidate (Law school student)

How did your time at the UMBC Women’s Center support your current work or career path? Working at the Women’s Center gave me a framework to explain and further understand the importance of intersectional activism and feminism when I approach a particular issue in the law.

How would you describe your UMBC experience? I loved being at UMBC. I made my best friends and had some of my most personally rewarding experiences while I was there.

DSC_3426 - Kayla Smith

Share a special moment from your time in the Women’s Center. How did it shape your experience as a survivor? After I led my second Take Back the Night march, I was approached by multiple women who told me that they were able to share their stories and process what happened to them because of my bravery and courage in sharing my own experiences with trauma and recovery. To me, that was the most rewarding experience because it reminded me why my work with the Women’s center was so important.

 

Kayla! Thank you for your bravery, for sharing your story, and for being a lifelong supporter of our mission!

UMBC Giving Day Black and Gold Rush is an inspiring example of what the UMBC community can accomplish together. If you would like to support survivors of sexual violence at UMBC, and build a coalition of supportive allies, consider giving to the Women’s Center’s GritStarter campaign during UMBC’s Giving Day this February 28th. 

 

Parenting Feminism

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A reflection by student staff member, Marie, on her personal journey to becoming a feminist and beginning the process of raising her own daughters as feminists.

 

As if it weren’t hard enough to finally get the hang of navigating through the world as a “failing feminist” (see previous post), I now have to figure out how to raise my two young girls as feminists.  The necessity to empower my girls to be strong minded individuals who respect themselves and their bodies has been weighing heavily on me lately.  The #metoo movement has played a significant part in bringing this awareness to the forefront of my mind. The online movement, (even though it technically began almost 10 years ago) has exploded into a worldwide hashtag, and is helping to shed an entirely new light on the importance of respect, consent, and especially accountability surrounding sexuality, and sexual misconduct. It has given a voice to women from all walks of life, who felt voiceless for a long period of time.  This break in silence, and rise of empowerment is impacting society in places where change and action are finally taking place, and people, especially women, are being heard.  The entertainment industry has been affected tremendously, (beginning with allegations against Harvey Weinstein), and has long since traveled all the way to the top of society: The White House.  In today’s day and age, it is slowly beginning to seem like there is no longer any authority or entity that is safe, or off limits to scrutiny. Unfortunately, this is rightfully so.

Primarily due to the tumultuous political climate and the heightened awareness of women’s rights, I am now thinking ahead about how I am going to “properly and effectively” start teaching my daughters the basics of feminism.  Sounds simple, right?  But what kind of feminists am I trying to raise?  Do I make that decision for them early on, or do I wait for them to come into their own, as women, and decide for themselves?  Obviously I want them to make their own decisions, but I am at a loss as where to start.

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I first thought that these life lessons would be simple. After attending my first 3-year-old Peter Pan themed birthday party and overhearing my daughter being told “No, no sweetie, you want to be Tinkerbell, not Peter Pan,” I swept in quickly to rectify that situation.  (Side note: it’s a bit ironic for someone to tell my daughter this misinformation, given that Peter Pan was actually played by a woman, and multiple times at that!)  It was on the way home from this birthday party that the realization set in: I need to begin to model the ideals of feminism, which to me include gender equality (and equity), liberation from sexist role patterns, reproductive justice, and basic human rights for all.   After putting the kiddos to sleep, I began to research how to parent feminist children.  Let me tell you, the vast amount of websites, blogs, “what to do” and the “what not to do” options were overwhelming to say the least!  

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After all this researching, I know that I need to avoid being “Feminist Lite,” after reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.  I was also gifted these eight tips on how to begin my parenting journey.

Are these suggestions really what I want to base my teachings off of?  I’m not really sure.  I mean, I am not quite sure that I am not the type of woman, let alone mother, who is going to “celebrate” my daughters’ first “menarche.”  I am also not ready to bring either of my children on a Child Protective Services visit to show them the kind of work that mommy the social worker does when she is not at home.  I am all for empowerment, self-advocacy, self-love, and promoting self-worth.  I am not sure how in the midst of these things, I am going to teach them how to properly garden or teach them about “the rhythms of the earth” as was encouraged by some of these parenting articles.

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After bouncing around from different blog posts to articles that offer advice on how to become the “Perfect Feminist Parent,” I have ultimately decided that I am more than capable of coming up with my own list of how to raise my daughters!  With the wealth of knowledge that I literally gain each and every time I spend time in the Women’s Center, combined with the ever so valuable information that I have collected during my time here as a GWST major, I think I’ve got this.

Here’s a few things that I’ve decided will be my basic guidelines to start off this process, as well as serve as gentile reminders to myself:

  • Teach body positivity
  • Teach consent, teach consent, teach consent
  • When talking about the body actually use the anatomically correct names
  • Carefully monitor the words that I use when talking to/describing my girls.  Only use worlds that build them up, not tear them down
  • Never stick to “gender norms
  • Most importantly: Allow my girls to be who they want to be.

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I realize that this is going to be an ongoing, everyday task.  I also realize that along the way, mistakes will be made- by myself and by my children.  In life, nothing is perfect. I for one most definitely have learned this throughout my existence.  However, it is what you do to re-create, or change these imperfections that shape and transform your life experiences.  I am super excited to help create a path in which my children can follow.  I am even more excited to see the paths that they create on their own.  

Lily.Lyla.Feminism

*****(Did you know that there is a student organization on campus called Parents Club?  If you are a student at UMBC, and a parent, the Women’s Center highly recommends you check out this exceptional resource!! AND…The Women’s Center lending library has a small (but mighty) children’s collection of books that the feminist kiddos (and their parents) might love.  Come by and check it out!!!)****