My MVP Experience

Last week, all of us new Sport in Society interns attended the Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) program that took place at Northeastern University in Boston. This 3 day training took us all outside of our comfort zones to approach the societal issue of men’s violence against women head on. Before we started we heard raving reviews from co-ops and interns who had gone through the MVP training before us. They really set the standards sky high, and I am happy to report that my experience was by no means a disappointment.  People from all over the country came to the training, and all of us had a common goal in mind. Each person had a different reason that brought them to MVP; some worked for domestic violence agencies, others experienced men’s violence against women first-hand, and there were some people who, like me, were required to attend by our employers. For whatever reason we were there, we were all connected to one another and I think I speak for all of us when I say that we left on the third day with a more open mind and 28 new partners in the fight to end men’s violence against women.

One of the first things that the facilitators of the program said was that MVP would be different than other professional trainings out there. Rather than just sitting in a big room and listening to the same person talk for 3 days straight, MVP was extremely interactive and the more conversation the better. It was a safe space for anyone to ask questions about whatever was on their minds. Before starting the training, I expected that I would just be listening to what other people had to say; I didn’t think that a 19-year-old girl with hardly any personal accounts of men’s violence against women would have much to talk about in comparison to the older, wiser experts in the field that attended. Little did I know, I found myself addressing the large group on many different occasions, expressing my own views and opinions on topics such as sexual harassment, gender stereotypes, and the bystander effect. It was enlightening hearing what people of different backgrounds and social classes had to say on this universal injustice. Not only did we get to discuss our thoughts and feelings on a wide variety of topics based around men’s violence against women, but we were given the opportunity to facilitate our own discussions within the group. It was a harder task than I expected, but it was an amazing learning experience. The ability to listen to people’s personal stories and foster conversation amongst a group of strangers is scary, but the ability to facilitate these conversations with others is a lesson that I will take with me forever.

Although a daunting task, MVP is attempting to change the world. Clearly molding society isn’t going to be easy and it’s not going to happen overnight by 29 people; but nonetheless, it’s a step in the right direction. I am only a very small piece of the enormous puzzle that society has created in the shape of men’s violence against women, but every person who shares the MVP mission is changing the world in their own way. If each person at this training, or any MVP training, tells their friends, family members, or co-workers what was discussed, and then those people passed on what they were told and so on, the message has the ability to reach all ends of the earth. It would be a beautiful thing to live in a world where bystanders take action in the fight to end men’s violence against women. This social injustice happens every day, in many different forms. If you take the time to identify it, and take a stand against it, then you are making the world a better place. If we all took our part in eliminating men’s violence against women then maybe changing the world won’t be such a difficult task after all.

MVP training (June 18-20)

Hanging Up My Jersey

Here I am, with only a few hours left as a co-op at Sport in Society. I cannot believe how quickly six months have passed and how much I’ve learned during my time here.

Today feels like the last game of your last season playing a sport. Throughout the season there have been ups and downs, wins and losses… but after today, there will be no more games. In a few weeks, someone else will replace you on the roster and you will no longer be actively on the team.

Over the last couple of weeks, a lot of new faces have popped up in the office…the awkward moment when one of the new interns took my usual seat. The interns have invaded and the lounge area once known as the Co-op Cave has been renamed the Intern Igloo.

Between the MVP Institute, Verizon Mobile Learning Lab, JCLC, and much more, I’ve had the opportunity to work with so many different people from 4th and 5th graders, to an ex NFL player.  I’ve learned something from each of them, even if it was just learning a new playground game, or if it was hearing a new perspective on gender roles and stereotypes.

Working at Sport in Society has given me a chance to see how big of a role sports can play in facilitating social justice. At the Junior Coach Leadership Convention, not only did I get to participate in an epic game of Doctor Dodgeball, but I also got to see elementary school students using playground games and rules to include everyone and help prevent bullying. On the Verizon Mobile Learning Lab, we discussed flagrant fouls in basketball to help answer practice SAT questions. Working with students, whether they were in elementary school or high school was an amazing opportunity, though they definitely made me feel old when they told me they were born in 1999 (or later).

So as I finish my final blog post and my final tasks as a co-op at Sport in Society, I know that I will take what I learned here and use it everywhere I go. I look forward to seeing how the new co-ops and interns step up to the plate!