Isn’t straddling a stranger meant to be uncomfortable?
If you’ve ever needed an ice-breaker for a group I highly recommend a self-defence session. Partnering up and tumbling others around a mat isn’t how I would normally spend my Saturday but it sure was the beginning to a great day. It may be highly unlikely that any of us became the accomplished jiu jitsu competitor that our coach is but the simple moves were practical. In addition to equipping us with tactics to help get out of uncomfortable situations it aids in reassuring, to ourselves, our ability.
As young women the undeniable reality is that many of us will be in situations whereby self-defence
knowledge is necessary. From the alleyways we were taught not to traverse in moonlight to the rooms of housemates we trust or cars of friends we told our parents we would be riding in. Personally, this was not my first self-defence class, making this class different for me to some of my fellow Fellows. However, all the components Leanna taught added to and cemented previous moves as well as elaborated on the variety of tricks to use when necessary.
"What an atmosphere! We were the truest definition of girls supporting girls in 2018."
It was empowering to establish how powerful everyone’s body is and can be. It was lovely to see others revel in their found strength and ability. The two hour long session ended with personal reflection which I think helped us focus on our achievements and areas to work on while cementing some of the training and further connecting us as a group. While refuelling with fruit we engaged in fruitful conversation, revealing the beauty of having such a culturally diverse group of young women.
How often do you dissect the complexities of traversing and performing identity with your peers? It became very clear to me that navigating our incredibly different every day lives is more similar than it is different. Intelligent, thoughtful, kind and hilarious only scrapes that surface of the endless beauty and nuance in these girls. I don’t think I’ve ever had an easier time getting to know and getting along with anyone as I had on the first day with the fellows.
The activities that followed not only encouraged us to identify and examine our beliefs, goals and likes/dislikes as well as their origins. Making environmentally conscious vision boards proved to be a challenge but was a process I think we all appreciate. The hope is that we all inch closer to becoming the best versions of ourselves, and this program facilitates for that.
"I am convinced that applying for the Jasiri Trailblazer Fellowship may be the best decision I've made this year."
Did I tell you that all the fellows are gorgeous? It’s a fact. The phenomenal makeup done by Anastasia, Brianna, Brittany and Khumiso was even more glamorous
as it was with all of our skin tones in mind. Being pampered and catered to in a way that is commercially available to those that exist within what may be perceived as “mainstream” society is
atypical to those of us that are of multicultural backgrounds. Even more so, there was an unexpected feeling of camaraderie that came with having everyone get their make up done at the same time. There have only been so few moments where I have heard other girls genuinely complimenting each other so much in my (albeit short) lifetime. What an atmosphere! We were the truest definition of girls supporting girls in 2018.
This all came through when we took our individual and group shots with Rumesha. I think we had the spirit of the Knowles sisters in us when we got in formation and stood as if ready to wed Alan Ferguson.
After one session I am convinced that applying for the Jasiri Trailblazer Fellowship may be the best decision I’ve made this year. Not only am I looking forward to spending time with the most wonderful of girls, the public speaking workshops, more self-defence classes with Bianca Elmir and working with my
mentor, I also get a headshot taken by a photographer that specialises in subjects that are of varying skin tones.
What more could a girl ask for?
Access to education. The end of gender based violence. Equal pay. Equal representation in decision-making positions across industries. Comprehensive, inclusive, pleasure-based sexual education. Rights to her own body. Justice for victims of assault. A life where she gets to be treated as a full human being in every aspect of her life, everyday.