FRANCE, Day 7: Friday 2014-01-10

By Abby
Discussion at cafe with activist Rokhaya Dialla
We arrived at the café “Le Zèbre dans le Patio” in the 19th district and armed ourselves with espresso drinks and cups of juice as Tara gave us a quick background on Rokhaya Diallo and the incredible work she’s done to combat racism and sexism both in France and elsewhere. Known for her fiery debate and boundless energy, the highly acclaimed radio and TV journalist/activist talked to us about the “Y’a Bon Awards” and the “Indivisibles” (both of which she founded) as well as the ways in which she handles harsh criticism, slander, and abuse from the media. Rokhaya was truly enthralling–her passion and incredible tenacity was clear simply from the way she talked, and I felt honored to have had the opportunity to meet such an inspiring woman leader.

By Danielle
Discussion with Haïfa Tlili about women in sports in the banlieue

We met with Haïfa Tlili, a researcher who is currently studying the relationship between girls of the banlieue and sports. She was the only French-speaking presenter whom I truly understood without the help of translation, and therefore her presentation was one of the most interesting to me (and to several others, as well). We learned that while most previous studies of this relationship considered religion and culture as the main reason for the girls’ lack of involvement in sports, the true reasons were much more complex. Haïfa is still “in the thick” of her study, so she doesn’t have any definitive answers yet, but she did share with us one result: most of the girls are so busy with schoolwork or other studies (many attend homework-help sections for hours after school as oftentimes, their parents cannot help them with it, and some attend classes outside of school to learn how to read and write Arabic) that they believe they have no room in their lives for sports.

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By Margarita & Alexa
Public speaking workshop led by Ladji Real and Tara Dickman
I thought I knew what I was doing when it came it public speaking. I thought it wasn’t so bad to speak in front of people, as long as you make sense and speak with strength. I was totally wrong. There are so many ways to improve yourself in public speaking, even if you think you’ve got it down. Ladji taught us that the most important thing when public speaking is your tone and your body language – the actual words you say are only 7% of what people pay attention to. You have to stay relaxed, or people will know you’re tense and think you’ll fail. Keeping calm and warming yourself up by stretching really helps you prepare and calm down, even if you’re nervous. After a general advice session, Ladji and Tara broke us into two groups, and each of us took turns speaking in front of the group about any topic we wanted to discuss. Tara and Ladji gave us individual pointers on how to improve after we finished our short talk. We were told about both our strengths and weaknesses. We went to dinner afterwards and enjoyed a delicious meal consisting of pizza and pasta. When we were done we were able to enjoy a boat trip down the river where we took pictures together. We were able to see the beautiful buildings and the Eiffel Tower and discuss our previous time over the last few days. It was a wonderful way to conclude the evening.

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