Serendipitous Occurrence One: I had never heard of The OpEd Project until I glanced at a flyer in the Urban Planning department at UCLA last month — one of dozens on a wall announcing lectures, events, and workshops. However, The OpEd Project came to mind again later that day because…
Serendipitous Occurrence Two: …Zahra Billoo, a friend from college who is now the Executive Director of CAIR, posted her recently published OpEd to facebook. She thanked The OpEd Project for their work in amplifying women’s voices, linking their site to her update. The more I read about the program, the more I knew, “I need to do this.”
Serendipitous Occurrence Three: Although The OpEd Project is a national program, the next core seminar happened to be in Los Angeles in two weeks. Every sign pointed to yes, and I couldn’t wait to sign up.
Then I went to register. The cost was well beyond my meager graduate student budget. I desperately e-mailed Chelsea Carmona inquiring about the scholarship program — although I didn’t have the money, I certainly had the words! Unfortunately, my late discovery of the OpEd project meant the scholarship money for this seminar was already allocated.
Ultimately, a combination of donations, extra work, and Chelsea’s gracious offer of her Alumni credit allowed me to register for the seminar. I’m unbelievably thankful for the fortunate chain of events allowing me to attend, and for the priceless afterglow of inspiration from this weekend.
Transformative is the only word to describe The OpEd Project experience. Our session was charged with the unmistakable energy that comes from finding your voice, for the first or the fiftieth time. As we went around the table expressing concerns, discussing expertise, and reframing our experiences and knowledge, you could feel the shared sense of growing empowerment. By the end of the day we were armed with tips on writing and pitching, but more importantly we left understanding how our experiences and knowledge are of value to others, and why our ideas need to be heard.
To Katie, to Chelsea, and to each of the women and men who shared their thoughts, their passions, and their vulnerabilities: Thank you for this experience — I can’t wait to read our words and watch as our ideas begin changing the world.
Written By: Nina Flores (pictured above right)