A special Coffee and Conversation to celebrate International Women’s Day. Livia Nelson, Mentor at Girls Write Now
What are you drinking?
English Breakfast Tea
What is your vision of equality?
I think about this a lot. I think about what can be achieved in my lifetime. Idealism vs. pragmatism.
I think a lot about the people who have power, and their awareness of it. In my vision of equality, people with power hold themselves accountable. Not merely recognizing their privilege but actively engaging to help create a balance so that opportunities and access are equally distributed amongst those with no power.
How do you contribute to your vision of equality in your everyday life?
I exist in spaces of privilege. I’m a White girl from Connecticut who works in tech. I contribute to the balance I want to see by calling it out anytime I do not see that balance. When I see something I think is wrong or unfair, I say something.
Does it piss people off? Of course.
But that doesn’t stop me. The level of awareness has to be raised, and calling out injustices in spaces of power and privilege is necessary. And I applaud those who speak up because staying silent is like sitting by and watching a house burn down. Ok so you didn’t start the fire BUT…
How has being a mentor at Girls Write Now informed your vision?
Before committing to being a mentor at GWN, I went to a friend's graduation where a civil rights attorney gave the commencement speech. And he said something I will never forget: “You have to go into the communities and actually contribute if you want to see change happen, it takes action.”
I committed to being a mentor soon after hearing those words. I’ve been a mentor for three years now and it has been the most fulfilling experience. I have grown and learned so much from these incredible girls and it has shown me that a contribution towards the greater good serves everyone.
How do you measure the quality of guidance in your role as a mentor?
The act of empowering another person is giving them the support to discern what is best for themselves. I think effective guidance toes the line between supporting growth and learning while facilitating free will.
When I give a mentee guidance I say: “Here’s my opinion. It’s your choice to decide if and how you will apply it.”
Thank you for taking the time.