MEET THE MUSE: A Conversation with Teen Muse Lila Reinecke
What inspired you to travel to Zambia with World Muse?
Working on social empowerment projects for the last couple of years and focusing on girls’ and women’s empowerment, I realized I had been limiting myself to only the things I could see inside my community. I realized that there was this entire other level of discrimination against girls and women in other countries, and that if I wanted to have a real perspective I needed to go to the front lines and see how it truly is for some of these girls. I wanted to experience the similarities and differences between the cultures.
What did you learn about issues affecting girls in rural Zambia?
The issues affecting girls in rural Zambia are mind boggling. There are so many misconceptions and lies that they believe about their bodies, birth control, periods, and menstruation. So many things stood out to me I can’t even write them all down. A few were that no one uses tampons because they are told it means they are not pure and clean anymore and that it will hurt their bodies, and when I told them that I used tampons they looked genuinely concerned for my well being. Also a massive issue in rural Zambia is that when girls bleed they can’t go to school because they don’t have feminine hygiene products or they feel too sick. This got me really fired up because I realized that women in the U.S and first world countries use birth control even if they aren’t sexually active to stop or lessen their periods, but in Zambia that is so looked down upon because they think it means they are sexually active before marriage and that they will hurt their bodies and never be able to have babies.
Please share a moment that had an impact on you.
One of the other things, besides sitting down with the girls and talking about issues, that had an impact on me was playing soccer with all the boys. Girls don’t usually play with the boys so I think it was super cool for the Zambian girls so see other girls and boys playing together and how I was keeping up with the boys. I’ve played soccer for my whole life and can honestly say I’ve never had so much fun playing as I did on the day at the secondary school we visited.
Why do you feel this sort of travel is important?
I think this sort of travel is important because you can research certain places and know the numbers and statistics of a place, but the real human connection and cross cultural interaction that is made on a trip like this is life changing and one of the coolest feelings in the world. Everyone has their misconceptions about African countries. I think before anyone has an idea or a thought about Zambia they should go there and experience it first hand before making judgements.
How has the experience changed you or shifted a belief about yourself or the world?
This experience really made me realize how many interesting and amazing people there are that are outside of my little home Bend that are doing incredible things. It made me realize that I want to make a change in this world and am going to continue doing this kind of work for as long as I can. On a personal level, this made me realize that little drama and altercations at home really don’t matter. It made me want to be a nicer more genuine person to everyone I meet because that’s how the Zambian kids treated us and they have next to nothing to call their own.
How will you utilize what you learned on this trip?
I’m not exactly sure how to utilize what I learned on this trip with going to college next year, but I honestly may want to change my major into something more applicable to social work and this kind of stuff. Also I am going to use the smiling faces of the Zambian children to make sure I have a positive, friendly outlook on life.
There are about 40,000,000 reasons someone should go on this trip. Life experience, seeing a completely different setting than what we’re used to. Connections and memories that will last forever, new friends, tighter bonds with old friends, a better perspective on life, and one disease; the disease that you will want and crave to go back to Africa/Zambia again and again.
Comments are closed