The fourth annual SPEAK event (Students of Principia for Education, Awareness, and Kindness) was presented to the Principia community in February 2012. Event coordinator and junior Lila Morse says that “SPEAK is a performance event in which both women and men come together to present their poetry, monologues, music, scenes and dance pieces. These performances address some of the challenges that women face throughout the world, as well as express gratitude for the progress continuing to be made.” This event raises awareness and empowers people to take action about gender rights issues. This event also inspires people to participate in movements aiming for gender equality among all global citizens.
This project has been deeply inspiring, memorable, and transforming for many Principians over the last four years. The point of SPEAK is to inspire Principians to reach out in their communities, build equality between the sexes, and eradicate societal stereotypes that aim to define male and female roles. The honest and heartfelt atmosphere of SPEAK also allows people to feel free to speak their minds without fear or hesitation. Last-minute performances attest to this open and inspiring atmosphere. Morse says, “[The] purpose of SPEAK is not to victimize or place blame on anyone.” She adds, “We do our best to make sure that nothing leaves us feeling angry, hateful, or helpless.”
In order to eradicate gender inequality, men and women must feel comfortable expressing themselves. Understanding and valuing the shared qualities between men and women will bring change to domestic violence and other gender-related issues. Morse says that “men have a stronger voice in political and social movements. Gender understanding and balance is very important. Men must hear the genuine voices of women, and vice versa.”
Before the show, Morse and event volunteers at the door to the Blackbox distributed pieces of paper, on which audience members wrote gratitude for the special women in their lives. Throughout SPEAK, there were designated breaks where these notes were read out loud. Morse explains, “These breaks of gratitude open a mindset for being appreciative of the good that is going on.”
(This article was written by Principia student Mia Shotwell. The original version of this article appeared in the February 2012 issue of The Pilot, Principia College’s student magazine. The SPEAK program is now in its fifth year.)