By Melina MebaneMy first experience going to JTDC was eye opening. After reading “Girls in Trouble With the Law“, I was able to going into the experience with a more critical eye. After arriving to the classroom with JTDC, the setting was exactly the same as the orientation we were given. I was very comfortable and confident that the whole experience would go very well.
After setting up for the project, all of the facilitators were engaging in casual conversation and without warning the girls were brought into the classroom. This moment knocked me off my center. It seemed to occur in slow motion. All of us immediately ceased speaking and looked to the girls, some were sizing up our intentions. As the facilitators stood there, the girls walked passed us. I felt conflicted. I thought, “Do I smile or not? Will that make me look like I’m trying too hard?” I instinctively smiled because that’s my nature, and I couldn’t try to deny it if I wanted to.
The first pod of girls was instructed by Mykel to sit on one side of the projector and the second pod sat on the other. They were asked one row at a time to line up and get a snack and drink. After getting settled in, the facilitators stood up in front of the projector screen, introduced ourselves and the movie. There were some technical difficulties with the projector so a couple of use stood in front and played “Two Truths and a Lie.” The girls seemed to like it, but they were putting each other down in the process. One girl said, “I’ll go! I’m ugly, I’m in JTDC, and I’m pregnant.” The others responded with “I don’t know what the lie is ‘cuz you’re ugly” followed by laughter from both parties. It was a sense of humor I was unfamiliar with.
As we watched Quincenera, a few girls spoke out during the movie. The parts that evoked chatter were those involving the main characters gay cousin and when the father apologized to the main character for suggesting she was a liar and a sinner. One of the girls yelled out “jokingly,” “Why couldn’t my dad say that to me?” I enjoyed the movie, but I was hoping the girl would have gotten pregnant as a result of actually having sex, not the suggested Immaculate Conception. I felt it cheated the girls of the opportunity to sincerely sympathize with the character. There were pregnant girls in the audience who have had to deal with the real life situation that may or may not have involved parental disappointment and alienation because of their actions, and although the movie dealt with those subjects, it was on false pretenses.
After the movie ended, we moved onto the project. We made future representations of ourselves using glitter glue, markers and magazine cutouts. Many of the girls had very positive “future selves” including characteristics like lady-like, role model, successful, and loyal. All I wanted to do was encourage and foster those kinds of goals. I was impressed at how all of the facilitators were flexible and positive even given there was a shortage of us. I really had fun making the craft, but I found it difficult to engage the girls in conversation. I think what we did was great, but I left wanting to do more.