St. Joseph’s Student attends Student Leaders on Women’s Leadership Program in USA
Dzüvinguno Dorothy Chasie
[dropcap]O[/dropcap]n the 19th of June, 2013, nineteen young women from six different countries came together in Lawrence, Kansas to undergo a five and a half week program at the University of Kansas, fondly called KU, in the summer for the Study of the United States Institute: Women’s Civic Leadership from the Heartland. Little did they know that what they expected would be entirely different to what was set in store.My name is Dzüvinguno Dorothy Chasie, a student from St. Joseph’s College, Jakhama, BA-II year- I was one of the participants for this Institute. The other women, ranging from the age of 18 to 25 were from Egypt, Mongolia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Morocco. There were four participants from India, three from Egypt, three from Mongolia, three from Afghanistan, two from Pakistan and four from Morocco.
The Institute had been funded by a grant from the Study of the United State Branch of the U.S. Department of the State’s Bureau of the Educational and Cultural Affairs. The principal organizers of the Women’s Civic Leadership from the Heartland at the University of Kansas included Dr. Mary Banwart, Associate Professor in the Communication Studies Department, and Academic Director for the Institute, and Dr. Becky Eason, Associate Director of the Center for Public Partnerships, and Research Administrative Director for the Institute. In addition were other amazing staff members who fulfilled a variety of functions to help the Institute run smoothly.
The Institute built on Kansas’ long history of women’s leadership at local, state, and national levels as well as the rich history of women’s social, economic, and political roles in the heartland. The academic residency combines a theoretical foundation with practical opportunities to put knowledge and skills into action. It was designed to study the process and nature of leadership, specifically women’s engagement with the leadership process, and to put that knowledge to work on during the Institute. The program also included guest lectures and interactive sessions with women in public office, management and academia.
The first four and half weeks of the Institute included the stay over on the campus of the University in Kansas and involved full participation in academic lectures, participation in the WE CONNECT (Women’s Empowering CONNECTions) program where we were assigned mentors, and development of two course-related projects integrating course materials and concepts. Travel to local and regional sites in the Kansas City area also took place. This time turned out to be a great opportunity to learn other cultures, both American as well as of the other participants’. There also took place a weekend stay over at volunteer host-families in Kansas where we experienced ‘typical American life’. A Cultural Dinner was organized, where the women from the six countries had to put their culinary skills to the test and present their favorite dishes from home to mentors and home-stay families.
During the last week, educational travelling included a trip to the National Constitution Centre in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to study the role of women in the founding of the United States. Then, the travelling took us to Washington DC for cultural tours and meeting with KU Alumnae, who have important roles in media, advocacy and public offices. Plus, there was a final meeting at the State Department where we met up with other SUSI participants from three other contemporary Women’s Leadership Institutes from other universities and colleges across the U.S. with young women coming from countries in and around Africa and Central Asia. There at the State Department took place a congratulatory ceremony where all the participants were awarded certificates and exchanged many a hand-shakes. We came to know of how bright a future we can make for ourselves and how much power and capacity we have, just by being ourselves.
Soon, the day of 28th of July arrived. It was time to leave and return to our home countries. And on the 28th of July, 2013, our stay together in the U.S came to an end as we all got on to our respective planes homeward bound.
It seemed only yesterday that we all arrived at GSP Hall, our accommodation for therest of the stay at KU, which we soon started calling home. That first day when everything was new and unfamiliar to us, how fast we grew to love Lawrence. Too soon we had to part with tears in eyes and sorrow in heart, but knowing fully well that we are going to remember and be remembered by the new family that we formed in Kansas. The KU Mascot, the Jayhawk Bird will be missed. The sentence on Evan, my KU friend’s shirt was right- “Once a Jayhawk, always a Jayhawk.”
It seems befitting that I only end with the KU sports chant that I had gotten so accustomed to. Indeed, I will miss hearing and shouting it out myself every day with people who love it as much as I and more. So I say this with love and a smile on my lips
–Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk