My name is Lilliana Swainson and I am a Year 10 student undertaking the Middle Years Programme (MYP) Personal Project in my final year of the MYP. My project works towards the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goal of gender equality (goal five).
My goal is to create a children’s book to educate and influence the development of a strong female identity in the 21st century.
Last year through studying the suffragettes in my third unit of Global Thinking, I became familiar with the concept of gender equality and the problems that women face all around the world. But I was more perplexed with the phycology and philosophies that surround this modern issue. Through discussion with feminist authors such as Fiona Hall, Violet Grace and Cath Crowley during Storyfest, I came to have a deeper understanding of what a strong female identity looks like and feels like and with the new gender equality movements at the moment such as the, ‘Time's Up’ campaign, I wanted to play my part in creating change. But, I know that it isn’t the Somerset College community that needs change, it’s our world which is why I have decided to take the task of translating my picture book into two other languages – Italian and French and maybe even more!
I am a young woman surrounded by amazing role models who are already making great change with my generation – and I know this because I see them every day in our own Somerset College community. However, I wanted to do something different, I wanted to reach out to the younger kids and start to create conversations. I feel that through my research, I have found that the gender categorising that we see is really encoded in us since a young age and found it important that if we were really going to make change, it needed to start in young kids having an understanding of what a strong female identity is. Through reading with Somerset Prep students and attending Clover Connect, I really started to get a feel for what a picture book should sound like and sound like. As an avid reader myself, I much enjoyed my time spent with the kids.
The title of my book, A Little Bird Told Me follows the line of a girl who pushes past the stereotypes because she knows that sometimes things just aren’t just her. She knows that she is brave, bold, independent and strong and sometimes she just doesn’t want to be like the others.
As I come to the end of my MYP journey, the writing of my picture book has been very worthwhile in my reflection and to see how I have changed from beginning my MYP journey. I have begun to look outside the Somerset community and become more of a globally minded person. As I work towards my goal, I become more of an inquirer, more of a thinker and more knowledgeable. I have now completed all my illustrations and I am currently editing my book into the correct formatting for publication. I can’t wait to share my picture book with the Somerset community.