“A Woman’s Stronghold” by Kobe Andrea Balina

The older I got, the deeper I knew about myself. Among all the learnings about myself, all my achievements and others I realized I still have weaknesses to improve. When I go to social media and see that people my age or younger achieved something, I feel like my efforts weren’t enough. I would also compare myself to others. Whenever I’d make a mistake, I would keep overthinking it, big or small.

One day, I learned that my mom was part of a group that empowers and trains women to become leaders. My mom kept telling us how much impact it brought on her. She was satisfied with how much wisdom every word Miss Russell said had. She was also satisfied with how confident she sounded while she was delivering it. Later on, it was announced that there was a program for girls my age. My mom encouraged me to join it by telling me how beneficial it is for me as a student leader. I was open to opportunities because I wanted to explore my character more and grow. Thankfully, I accepted the invitation. 

This wasn’t just an invitation to an event, but an invitation to a life-changing event. The second I met my teacher, I already knew something life-changing was going to happen. I felt that way because Miss Russell was a very good listener and I loved how she responded to every question with her calm voice. I also thought it would be a great experience because it was with girls in my age group, that way, we can practice leadership skills more. When it comes to leadership, we practice communication skills and open-mindedness. I found joy in being in a group because it’s fun listening to other peoples’ stories and learning more from them.  Spoiler, it was an enjoyable experience! 

I loved how we all stay in touch outside of the classroom through our WhatsApp group. Talking in front of people isn’t everyone’s strength, through our WhatsApp group everyone was given the chance to share their perspectives. Everyone started small by thinking of answers to Miss Russell’s questions and taking videos. Here, we express the qualities of a leader which are negotiable and wise. We express wisdom by using our self-awareness to reflect on what we learned from life experiences. We have different causes for our learnings, we might have fallen or stood up. But they have the same effect when they’re shared, it’s that they can help all of us become empowered. An idea would be useless if it isn’t shared with others, which is why negotiable is the key to empowerment. We were able to demonstrate negotiation skills because Miss Russell is a good listener and responds very well to our answers. She truly shows that communication is a two-way street because she helps us explore our learnings deeper by telling us what we learned. Reading Miss Russell’s meaningful paragraphs helped me see how powerful our words were. It encouraged me to not be afraid to share my ideas because you wouldn’t know the worth of your idea if you don’t. 

There was one piece of advice from Miss Russell that made me more encouraged to continue this program, it was something I needed. As I said, my weakness is comparing myself to others, and it has pressured me to achieve. We had an icebreaker, for our icebreaker, we had to draw something that was distracting our peace of mind. I drew something that represents me comparing myself to people, I explained further what my drawing meant and the reason for the message. After that, Miss Russell agreed with me that comparing myself to others can affect my peace of mind. She told me that instead of comparing myself to others, I’ll compare myself to the person I was before. When we do that, we will feel better about ourselves because we realize how much we have grown. We feel bad about ourselves because what’s hard for us, could be easy for others. I can’t argue with you that the world feels like a race sometimes. We should remind ourselves that learning comes in different shapes and sizes. As well to that we have different strengths and weaknesses. When we feel tired, we shouldn’t pressure ourselves because being tired doesn’t mean you’re weak. It means that we have worked so hard to reach our goal that we need a reward even when it doesn’t feel like it. The advice Miss Russell shared is worth sharing, and hearing this advice was one of the reasons I’m here writing this testimony. 

Now, to conclude my testimony I’ll answer a question, “Would I recommend this program to girls my age?”. To answer that, of course, I would! I’m aware that as we get older, we start feeling insecure about ourselves, and we feel negative emotions more. This program empowered me, and I’ll never forget Miss Russell’s kind and wise words. Miss Russell truly is the epitome of woman power, and I love how she uses her powers to make us feel empowered. Her wisdom and kindness encouraged everyone and me to go out of our comfort zone. It’s not easy to go out of our comfort zone because of how it will turn out. But if we don’t get out of our comfort zone, we can miss out on something big, and going out of it, Miss Russell showed us what we could’ve missed out on. When I explore life more, I’ll never forget the people who supported me in my journey. These people are Miss Russell and the SILK Family! To everyone who was part of my batch, I hope you’re doing well, I hope you can achieve your goals in life because you deserve it! It was fun being a part of your journey! For the current batch, I hope to see you all at the top! I hope you’re enjoying this program! To the future batches, it’s gonna be worth it! Good luck to the past, present, and future leaders! Altogether, we can empower the current and next generations. I raise a toast to the SILK Family! Thank you all, for everything! 

NOTEWORTHY: On top of Kobe’s scholastic work at the Stonyhurst Southville International School, her current achievements and responsibilities include: Student Council Auditor 2022-2023, Academic Excellence Award – Gold, Values Excellence Award, active participation In School Organization – In Touch, active participation in SGEN Model United Nations Online Conference 2022 – Delegate of Peru, President of Rotakids Batangas District 3820 RY 2022 – 2023.