Durfee Girls Bond at El Monte INSPIRE Event
Last week, 8th grade girls from Durfee School in the El Monte City School District (EMCSD) attended El Monte’s INSPIRE conference. The event is a young women’s leadership conference geared towards encouraging teenage girls to love themselves by taking care of their physical and mental needs.
The goal is to bring together 8th through 12th grade girls attending schools in El Monte to develop community relations and boost female empowerment. Students participated in several workshops, listened to keynote speakers, and networked with mentors from different professional backgrounds.
Durfee teacher Monica Macias has been at the forefront of taking interested 8th grade girls to this event. This was the first year since the COVID-19 pandemic that she was able to bring a new group of girls. “It’s inspiring and empowering for the girls to see the possibilities beyond what is available to them locally,” explained Ms. Macias. “[They] get to hear stories of those who have gone through many obstacles to find an outlet to pursue higher education and professional opportunities. The more they hear about these stories, it really opens their eyes to the possibilities.”
Some of the major topics included the effects of social media, importance of mental wellness and self-image, along with health and beauty. The girls also received makeup and hair tutorials from cosmetologists from El Monte’s Professional Institute of Beauty. They appreciated how caring the cosmetologists and stylists were as they walked through them hair and makeup styles that work best for them. “We felt like they actually care about you,” shared Mariany Aparicio and Alyssa Meza, two Durfee students who attended the event. “They were all really nice and welcoming when they taught us how to put everything on. It’s a profession I’m considering now,” explained Mariany.
A major highlight from INSPIRE was the group sound bath that gave students the opportunity to decompress and release inner feelings or thoughts through a full-body meditation process that incorporates resonant sounds. “[The] quiet and relaxing setting helps your mind not worry about anything,” explained Alyssa. The sound bath was purposefully scheduled to occur after the girls attended all the different workshops like social media safety and its impact on young women to stories about the struggle of growing up with immigrant parents.
Many girls shared their own personal struggles that seemed to resonate with most of the attendees, creating an overpowering emotional experience that the girls conquered together. “All the girls came out telling me how relaxing and hypnotizing it all was. I wish every student could experience something like that,” shared Ms. Macias.
This year, 8th grade girls were included to connect them with their high school peers in hopes to ease the transition from middle school to high school. 8th graders were also able to connect with young women from all the different El Monte High Schools to ask about their high school experience and create social connections at the next level.
Every Durfee girl who attended agreed that more girls should attend this event in the future. “Don’t knock it until you try it,” said Alyssa. “I was iffy about going, but [when] I left, I went home and told my mom about the great time I had and it’s definitely something I’m happy I said yes to.”
Ms. Macias hopes to see more EMCSD schools bring their 8th grade girls next year because she believes the impact is that deep. When asked how she would pitch the event to her colleagues, Macias shared, “Two of my former students came back as mentors and shared with my current group that this event is one of the best experiences they had in middle school, and to this day, they remember going to INSPIRE. This could be one of those moments in their students’ lives where you can make some impact beyond the classroom.”