I first heard about Girl-Talk-Girl when I had been in New York for only a few months. Work was taking up most of my time, and I was anxious to meet new people. I was so nervous about getting accepted to participate. In college I had studied three years of Russian and had an internship where I blogged about women's rights. I knew anyone I met through this program would be someone I liked, but what I didn’t realize was how dramatically it would change my life.
When trying to summarize my experience with Girl-Talk-Girl it’s easy to think of many words that describe what I have experienced, but impossible to think of one that perfectly captures it. The closest I can come is “community.” Though we only saw each other online and in text and videos, the girls in both Saint Petersburg and New York City genuinely became a community. Who else can you talk to about some of your most difficult moments than people you consider a part of a shared community?
I learned many things while working on the project. I learned how to make and edit simple videos, that my Russian had grown very rusty, and that no matter where we lived, all of us faced similar dilemmas. There were videos we got to see from the different cities that were nearly identical, and while we all are told people are people, it was so reassuring and hopeful to see that on a screen in front of my eyes.
My time with Girl-Talk-Girl was so inspirational that I even started volunteering with Footage Foundation and their Director in New York City. My participation did just what I had wanted it to do - it helped me grow a community. As the program starts wrapping up I am eager to see what comes next.
This program has been eye opening to myself, my peers, and to people I have talked to about the program. It has made me an international citizen, helped me voice my experiences, and taught me a lot about myself. I hope that the program can continue to grow and evolve so that other women and girls around the world can use it -- to build community, to grow, and to see how we are all the same.
Zoe is currently wrapping up a year of service of service as an AmeriCorps VISTA. You can find out more about what she does on her blog: The Rebel Prepster. You can also find her on Twitter and Instagram at @zoeelizabeths