2018 PFIG Recipient Anna Bostwick
Journal Entry #1
Hello! My name is Anna Bostwick and I am a rising fourth year at UVA. My internship this summer is with Becky’s Fund, a non-profit based in Washington, D.C. that works to prevent domestic violence through advocacy, education, and direct client services.
This summer, Becky's Fund will be running its Men of CODE program at 3 high schools in the D.C. area. Through Men of CODE, we educate male high school football players about domestic violence, consent, healthy relationships, leadership, mental health, bystander intervention, and masculinity. The lessons are constructed to give the young men tools to be a part of the solution against domestic violence and leaders in their communities. I will be teaching at one of these schools 3 days a week for seven weeks. In preparation for teaching, I have been editing the curriculum for these lessons over the past few weeks. In addition, I have been busy making social media posts, doing outreach for our annual fashion show fundraiser, and researching the effects of trauma on domestic violence survivors.
As a Cognitive Science and psychology double major, I have particularly enjoyed researching trauma and its effect on survivors. I am aiming to publish this research to our website in order to provide the public with more information on this important topic. While there has been growing public awareness of traumatic brain injuries and PTSD in veterans and football players, domestic violence survivors have largely been left out of this conversation. The trauma they endure is severe and has long-lasting effects on the brain, especially due to the repeated nature of the violence. I hope that the work I am doing will bring this issue to light and contribute to the much-needed conversation about domestic violence and trauma.
Another exciting aspect of the internship was having the opportunity to attend a conference in Tuscon, Arizona that focused on mobilizing men and boys in the fight against domestic violence. Over 200 people attended from across the country, and it was a very humbling experience collaborating with so many inspiring groups making a positive impact in their communities. Organizations such as Men Can Stop Rape, Break the Cycle, and the Office Against Violence Against Women spoke about sustainable organizations, policy development, challenges in non-profit work, and tips for engaging young men and boys.
All in all, the past three weeks have been a whirlwind, and I feel so fortunate for the opportunity to work at Becky’s Fund this summer. I can already tell I am going to learn so much that will help me in my career. If you’d like to learn more about the organization, check out our website at http://www.beckysfund.org or our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages. Thanks for tuning in!
Journal Entry #2
My last few weeks at Becky’s Fund have been full of new experiences. Most notably, I began teaching an awesome group of high school football players three times a week! So far, our lessons have covered leadership, masculinity, sexual assault, consent, healthy relationships, and domestic violence. Going into my first week of teaching, I didn't know what to expect. I was unsure of how the students would react to me and the content of the program. Over the past few weeks, however, the students and I have built up a foundation of trust and our discussions have improved each class.
In all of the lessons, we have been emphasizing a theme of "dominant stories," or mainstream conceptions and stereotypes that are deeply engrained in our society. These dominant stories shape the way we think and interact with the world. We also talk about "counter stories," which go against the mainstream narratives and prove them wrong.
In the leadership lesson, we went over different ways to lead along with mainstream conceptions about what leaders look and act like. In the masculinity lesson, we talked about the dominant story surrounding masculinity, what is means to “be a man,” and how these stereotypes can be limiting and harmful. During our the lesson on healthy relationships and domestic violence, we went over characteristics of unhealthy, healthy, and abusive relationships, as well as scenarios that highlighted some of these traits. We talked about the power and control dynamics surrounding domestic violence as well. Finally, in the consent and sexual assault class, we talked about what consent is, why it is necessary and important, and how consent fosters respect between two people. We also discussed how men and women are taught about sex differently, and how incongruent expectations for men and women contribute to a culture of sexual assault.
Many of the students have never been given a space or opportunity to talk openly about these topics. While it took some time for them to open up, the students are consistently showing vulnerability and thoughtfulness in the lessons that has been heartening to see. Because I come from a different background than these players, it has been important for me to learn from their experiences and listen to them in the same way they have listened to me over the past few weeks.
During each lesson, we administer a survey that we gather data from. This survey data is important for showing the effect of our Men of CODE program, and is useful information to include in grant proposals. Therefore, I have been running statistical analyses on these surveys and writing up data summaries for each lesson. Using the information we gather from these surveys, we can also tailor our lessons to what the students know. I have enjoyed gaining experience with data analysis and believe it is an integral part of the work we do. In addition, I have been writing reflections each week about the lessons, touching on what worked well and what did not.
Along with my teaching tasks, I have continued to research and write about the impact of trauma, create social media content, and reach out to sponsors for our fall fundraiser event. The summer is flying by so quickly, and I can’t believe I only have a few weeks left. I am excited for what’s to come in this internship and am so grateful for the experience I have had at Becky’s Fund thus far.
Journal Entry #3
Over the last few weeks of my internship, I wrapped up the Men of CODE program along with other projects I’ve been working on. In our last couple of classes at Friendship Collegiate High School, we covered bystander intervention. One activity that was particularly memorable was one in which the football players acted out bystander intervention strategies. All of the young men went above and beyond in committing to their roles—we had some serious acting talent among the group! In addition to reveling in their classmates performances, the young men seemed to appreciate learning practical, simple strategies that would help them take action in potentially harmful situations.
Teaching the Men of CODE program gave me confidence in my ability to address a room and lead thought-provoking discussions. The skills I learned through teaching, including public speaking, engaging an audience, thinking on my feet, collaborating with others, and preparing presentational materials, will help me in any field I pursue in the future. I also learned so much from the football players during my time teaching Men of CODE. Listening to their experiences broadened my perspective and changed the way I thought about the issues we discussed. All in all, I am so appreciative for the opportunity to work with the players; it was an absolute pleasure teaching them.
In addition to preventative education, this internship gave me a taste of the fundraising aspect of non-profit work. In preparation for Becky’s Fund’s fashion show fundraiser event, Walk This Way, I put together sponsorship packages, compiled spreadsheets of potential athletes and media personalities to invite, and researched fashion brands. Through this work, I learned the importance of raising money to sustain and expand non-profit programs. In addition, I became aware that maintaining relationships and contacts is critical for non-profit growth and success. Overall, it was exciting to contribute to a large-scale event that raises public awareness about domestic violence.
Looking back on my time at Becky’s Fund this summer, I have had the opportunity to learn and grow in so many ways. The wide range of tasks I’ve worked on has exposed me to many aspects of non-profit work, and equipped me with invaluable skills moving forward in my career. From teaching to fundraising work to researching trauma, I was able to contribute to the movement against intimate partner violence in a variety of ways. I am so grateful for the opportunity to work at Becky’s Fund, and I look forward to doing similar work in the future.