Last week we had a chance to participate and perform at a conference entitled “Building Campus and Community Collaboration for Sexual Violence Prevention and Response” sponsored by the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault and held at the University of Maine – Orono. The conference brought together educators, resources and advocates, all representing colleges, universities and community resources from throughout the state of Maine. We were honored to be invited!
Shana was invited to sit on a panel entitled “Healthy Sexuality and its Role in Preventing Violence,” where she was able to share stories from being a peer educator in college, as well as some of the work that Speak About It has done to encourage dialogue on various campuses in the past year and a half. The conversation was very interactive, and Shana took away some great information from the audience and the other panelists. The Keynote Speaker, Sarah Rankin from Harvard University, gave a wonderful presentation over lunch about what they have been able to accomplish at Harvard in creating a safe and accepting culture around sexuality, and encouraging dialogue among their students. After lunch, Shana and Nick attended a panel entitled “Primary Prevention through Bystander Engagement.” Nick, as a former leader of Bowdoin Men Against Sexual Violence (BMASV), had some great contributions to the conversation and it was great to learn from people who have been paving the road (and sometimes re-inventing it!) about how bystander intervention is being taught and discussed.
Then, the show. One of the kinks we’ve been working out on the tour was how to prepare the audience for an upbeat and entertaining performance. So, we created a soundtrack for ourselves. And this audience was no different – we needed to get them “in the mood” after a long day of conferencing. I wish we could have had a photo of the collective faces when “I Just Had Sex” by the Lonely Island came on the iPod! Shock! We decided to use the script from our performance at Colby College and still managed to get some laughs!
The most rewarding part, however, came at the end. As we concluded the performance, delivering information to a room full of experts at the end of a long (but awesome!) day.. we were given a standing ovation. We were all incredibly humbled and so thankful to have been a part of such a wonderful and educational conference, and to have been so appreciated at the end! Since then, we have received feedback from attendees through Facebook, texts and in person who were all so impressed with our program. Again, a huge thank you!
We were able to take so much away from the conference and the amazing people we met there – the people who are out there, every day, doing the work to prevent sexual assault, to create safe spaces on college campuses, to help survivors, and to change and improve cultures. These people are often behind-the-scenes, organizing events or making sure policies are always being amended and improved. To all of you, Speak About It gives you a standing ovation.