Sister-to-Sister conference links students and local girls
Seventh-grade students flooded into Alumni Hall Thursday for a Sister-to-Sister conference, an annual event that this year addressed issues related to self-esteem and interpersonal relationships. Hosted by Link Up, a mentorship and community-building campus organization, the conference invited 120 female students from six local middle schools to participate in activities and talks with 16 undergraduate facilitators, 10 Link Up members and other volunteers.

Kelsey Stimson ’15, Link Up president, said the organization sought to bring together people from different parts of campus and empower female students from the Upper Valley. Link Up aimed to have a more lasting impact on conference participants than it has in past years, Stimson said. Among other activities and discussions, participants were asked to write themselves a letter that they would receive after graduating eighth grade. Throughout the conference, discussions focused on body image and the media’s influence on self-perception. Small group discussions focused on fostering connections and mutual encouragement among participants, Stimson said. “You are empowered not only by your personal beliefs, but by this community of women who support each other,” Stimson said. “By your supporting someone else, you’re giving yourself confidence.” The Panhellenic Council partnered with Link Up to expand the program this year. Representatives from peer advising groups, the Office of Pluralism and Leadership, WISE, Women in Science, Women in Mathematics, Women in Computer Science and non-Panhellenic sororities were also invited to contribute. WISE program manager Kate Rohdenburg spoke about the media’s impact on girls views of themselves. She discussed gender roles, beauty as a path to success and building community with other girls. In her talk, Rohdenburg urged the audience to find inspiration in other women rather than compete with them. Discussing dating and confidence, Rohdenburg urged women to only date people who think they are “awesome.” Other topics covered by speakers included healthy friendships and bullying. Kira Farris ’17, a Link Up member, gave a presentation that included video clips from “Mean Girls” (2004). “You can’t have women attacking other women when they’re already being attacked by the media,” Stimson said. A panel of four undergraduate women also spoke about middle school experiences. “Seventh grade was a particularly difficult moment in my life,” panelist Rin Kominkiewicz ’14 said in an interview. “If sharing my experience helps these girls, that’s all I can ask for.” Stimson said that while opening up to a table of strangers at first posed a challenge to young women, various games and discussions made the experience less intimidating. “At the end, they’re having these amazing discussions that they may not even have with friends that they trust, but somehow, they have achieved this level of trust with strangers at their table,” Stimson said. Programming included crossing the line, an activity that asks people to consider their privilege, and a show-and-tell session of objects that brought them strength. During lunch, the Subtleties performed for participants. Inviting campus sororities expanded the event’s funding, which allowed more middle school students to participate in the conference, Stimson said. The Panhellenic sororities crafted conference decorations during sorority pre-recruitment events over the last two weeks. Philanthropy is important to sororities and often gets lost in pre-recruitment, Panhell vice president of public relations Jessica Ke ’15 said. Sister to Sister began in 2000 and originally focused on encouraging young women to pursue careers in STEM fields. It has since expanded to become a forum for discussing issues such as health, self-confidence and relationships. Stimson is a former member of The Dartmouth staff. The article has been revised to reflect the following correction: Correction appended: May 2, 2014  The original version of this article said that Kelsey Stimson is the Link Up vice president, which is not correct. She is the president. The article has been corrected.  
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