Next week, April 24th, I will host the second annual “In My Shoes” event on campus, during stop the hate week.
In My Shoes is a program that I adapted from the MTV’s popular show “If You Really Knew Me” where mentors sit down with a select group of students on high school campuses across the world to tear down stereotypes they are either victim to or guilty of perpetuating.
I came up with the idea after taking an independent study with Dr. Betsy Eudey (great teacher!) where I examined the ways society helps shape young males today. Instead of doing the standard research paper, I wanted to make a difference and create an event that helped to talk openly about pressures/stereotypes/bullying that young men and women face in college.
Yes, college campuses have cliques, too. As much as we’d like to believe it ends in high school, it doesn’t. With Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and good old fashion trash talk still alive and well, bullying continues to flourish.
I believe it’s never too late to take a good, hard look at yourself in the mirror and ask what you are doing to keep these stereotypes alive and well. Being silent is just as bad as teasing, in my opinion.
The event last year went very well. We had about 25 students participate (which was great for the pilot run) and they were really open to the topics discussed. We did a lot of teambuilding exercises to get the students comfortable with one another. At one point, myself and my co-host, Gaby, got up and shared a personal anecdote about our lives in an effort to make the students more comfortable with sharing their stories. They were able to get into small groups and let people who they may have never interacted with before know what it is like to be in their shoes.
This year, I would like the event to focus more on body image and how it can affect men and women differently. I want the participants to walk out of the event with an action plan on how we are going to go about turning our educational community into a more accepting one.
I want to stress that this isn’t a classroom lecture, it is an interactive program that will only work with participants who are willing to lend ideas to the cause. While there will be facilitators at the event, they are not to be viewed as “authority figures;” instead, they are participants who are committed to changing our campus as well.
I urge everyone to check out this event, it will be a lot of fun!
Sidenote: the flier says “Women’s Edition” but that was from an earlier brainstorming. We decided to open it to both males and females again because body image isn’t something that just affects women.