#WomenWednesday: Meet India!

   Yasha Spriha is studying English Literature. Yasha is a liberal individual who believes in equality and justice. She is very passionate about women’s literature in specific. Her personal interests include reading, writing, and listening to music. Yasha loves to have conversations and believes in the power of words. India is a secular country according to Yasha, there are several religions coexisting within its national boundaries. As a Hindu Indian woman, her mission is to develop inter-communal relationships and create equality in the Indian society. Yasha believes that the KWLI is an opportunity of a lifetime. She hopes that her time with the KWLI will give her the opportunity to discover new dimensions of her personality and identity. She hopes to create a safer and more respectful environment for women. Her favorite quote is “I am not bird; and no net ensures me: I am a free human being with an independent will.” By Charlotte Bronte.

Sampriti Mukherjee is a third year Bachelor of Arts student majoring in Social Sciences with a specialization in Economic, Political Science, and Sociology from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Hyderabad. Sampriti is passionate about gender rights and eliminating all forms of gender violence, providing better health and sanitation opportunities to women as well as ensuring equality to people of all genders and sexual orientation. She considers herself an ambivert and loves to play violin. Sampriti says the KWLI has been “nothing short of a dream come true.” Sampriti hopes to break away from her cocoon and learn to get out of her comfort zone. Moreover, she hopes she can take the skills she has learned during her time with the KWLI and help empower the women in her local community so that they can live healthier, productive and more enriched lives. Her favorite movie is Forrest Gump featuring Tom Hanks, and the reason for that is because this movie taught her about perseverance and to love herself for whom she is.

Saudamini Gupta is studying law with a specialization in constitutional and governance laws. She is a secular person and believes in the power of women. Saudamini enjoys having meaningful conversations about issues related to different communities. She says that India has a reservation policy for making underprivileged classes to be at par for with the privileged classes socially, economically, politically, and educationally. Saudamini hopes to develop as a human and become more sensitive to others. She is excited to apply the concepts of adaptive leadership to her projects back in India. Her favorite quote is “an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind” by Mahatama Gandhi.

Aprajita Verma is a Social Science major, specializing in International Relations, Economics, and History. Aprajita strongly supports intersectional feminism and human rights. She sees herself as an active listener and likes to engage in meaningful discussions. Some of her hobbies include reading non-fiction books, listening to music, and playing chess. She says that India remains as one of the few liberal democratic countries that has maintained an open door policy for refugees, migrants, the stateless, and displaced people. Through the KWLI she hopes to deconstruct the idea of leadership and develop a holistic understanding of the dynamic concept of adaptive leadership. She believes that this program has been an insightful journey towards the realization that leadership is a process we must engage in it with all our heart, mind, and soul. Aprajita’s favorite quote is “The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong in the world.” By Paul Farmer.

#WomenWednesday: Meet Morocco!

Zakia Hmayda is from a small town in Morocco studying Computer Networking. She is currently living with her aunt in a big city o she is facing a new challenge of adjusting to the city life on her own. Zakia enjoys listening to Indian songs and is fascinated by the Indian culture. She watches Bollywood movies and dances in her free time. A fun fact about her is that about 99% of her clothes are different shades of black. In Morocco, there are two dialects that are most commonly spoken in Morocco: Tamazight and Darija. Zakia hopes to gain new friends during her time with KWLI and wants to encourage friends and family around her to get and education because it opens up many opportunities that one would not receive otherwise.

Aicha Adoui is majoring in Literature and Human Sciences. Aicha says that Morocco is geographically diverse and is mostly known for tourism. Aicha identifies as Muslim and feels that she is responsible for being a model that represents her religion to be able to clear false stereotypes that have been created towards Islam, mainly in the media. Aicha’s favorite saying is “some of the best things in life are mistakes” and her favorite song is Wake Me Up by Green Day. Aicha’s weakness is caffeine in all its forms. She is also a huge fan of Korean Culture, and actively listens to Korean pop and watches Korean dramas.

#WomenWednesday: Meet Mongolia!

Mongolia

Ichinkhorloo Khosbayar (Oko) is studying International Relations, and was a part of AIESEC for almost two years and got the opportunity to go to Thailand for six weeks! She says Mongolia is known because of famous people such as Genghis Khan, but there is more to Mongolia than just that; they have their own unique tradition, culture, and language. Oko says today (June 29th) is actually an important day for Mongolians because they have parliament elections to elect new representatives for the next 4 years. During her time at KWLI, Oko hopes to meet new people and learn about their history and culture, and gain public speaking skills. Oko would also like to learn about each woman’s contribution to society! Her favorite movie is “7 Pounds” and her favorite quote is “rise and shine!”

Khulan Givaasuren is a senior at the National University of Mongolia studying International Journalism. She is excited to spend her time with such encouraging women and thinks it will be a great opportunity for self-development. Khulan believes that the KWLI will help her a create a tight network between the women from across the globe! She also believes that the KWLI will help guide her to find some solutions to the bigger issues facing the women in Mongolia. Khulan hopes to learn about the culture and traditions in the United States. Her favorite movie is “127 Hours” and her favorite song is “Ain’t Your Mama” by Jennifer Lopez.

Bujinlkham Bandikhuu studies The University of Finance and Economics majoring in Business Economics. Bujnlkham enjoys TedTalks, photography, Russian literature, hiking, and meditating! She says that Mongolia is one of the developing countries in the world with a sky that is ocean blue, which is why it is known as The Land of The Blue Sky. Bujinlkham hopes to enhance her leadership skills through KWLI and develop her network of professional acquaintances and make new friends along the way. Her favorite quote is “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” by Lao Tzu.

Tungalag Adiya is a senior in college studying at the University of Finance and Economics and is majoring in accounting. Her interest in accounting started when she took a math class in high school and fell in love with numbers! She believes that numbers reflect thousands of words without needing any translation, and her goal is to become a skilled accountant and contribute to her country’s value as much as possible. Tungalag says that Mongolia is a large landlocked country between Russia and China and that the capital city, Ulaanbaatar, means “red hero” in English. Tungalag hopes to learn from the other women at KWLI. She wants to learn about all the cultures and countries and knows that KWLI will open her eyes to the vast world around her. Her favorite quote is is by Winston Churchill and he states: “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”

#WomenWednesday: Meet the women of Mongolia!

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The women from Mongolia have been such a great part of our institute. We are excited for you to meet them!

Otgonzul is studying renewable energy engineering. She would like people to know that Mongolia is a developing country with an up-and-coming younger generation. She would like to tell her younger self that even when problems arise, she should be persistent and face them with courage. “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity!” She also loves to eat cheesy foods, especially pastas!

Bolor is studying international economic relations in Ulaanbaatar. If she could give her younger self advice, she would say, “You are stronger and smarter than you realize. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You just have to persevere through the hardships and stand tall.” She would like people to know that though Mongolia is associated with a nomadic lifestyle, it is not barbaric. She is from a metropolitan city and the people there are very peaceful. Her favorite food is brownies!

Uyanga (Melody) is studying financial management. She says that many people assume that she is serious and quiet, but when you get to know her she opens up. She loves to eat spicy food and pasta. She says that Mongolia is developing very rapidly. If she could give her younger self advice, she would say, “Try new things, explore yourself, don’t be afraid to fail, meet new people, try to see the world from a different angle. And read a lot of books!”

Javkhlan (Jane) is studying international business management and describes herself as imaginative, driven, and passionate. She says that her beliefs and values drive her life. She wishes she could say this to her younger self: “Learn as many things as possible. Be fearless. You can do anything if you put your energy toward it. You are that strong. Don’t let anyone tell you that you are less than this.” Her favorite food is cake (vegan of course)!

Stay tuned for more updates from these talented and passionate women!

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Women Wednesday: Introducing the women from India

We are so excited to introduce you to the women from India!

Mahamedha is a student of English, politics, and social work. If she could give her younger self advice, she would tell herself to make less mistakes. She would like people to know that India has more to explore than religions. They do not call it “Incredible India!” for no reason. Her favorite treat is cheese pizza!

Aradhana is a computer science and engineering student who loves red velvet cake! If she could go back in time, she would tell her younger self to think things through and prioritize before acting. She would like the world to know that 780 languages and dialects are currently spoken in India!

Ani is a student of English literature. She wants to the world to know that even though people consider India to be a country of superstitions, many of their beliefs are based in scientific fact. If she could go back in time, she would tell her younger self to be more serious in all aspects of life. Her favorite food is a rice pudding dish called payasam.

Bala is a psychology and sociology student who would like to one day become a counselor. Her advice to her younger self is something we can all learn from. “Whatever you feel like doing, just do it! Life is too short. Please smile while you still have teeth!”

We are so excited to have these passionate, talented, smart, and funny women with us this summer. Check in on social media tomorrow to hear from them more!

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Commemorating a Struggle

This guest blog was written by KWLI 2014 alumna Arpita Mitra

Every day I see people struggling – a struggle to sustain oneself, to cope up with the trying moments; much courageous, a struggle to move on. The omnipresence of a certain sense of competition, of an uncalled-for pitting oneself against the other, or the increasing desirability of a number one position, makes me wonder about what went wrong.

In an inter-connected globalized world, transcending borders have not only increased opportunities, but have differentially, yet paradoxically hindered the same for many communities. While I’m coming to terms with the increasing costs of education for international students at much aspired universities, there are many others who are employed as child labourers because education itself is made to appear as a distant privilege to them. From the last breath of a young girl who was left abandoned by her parents to be chewed by dogs, to young boys unethically labeled ‘terrorists’ or ‘national threats’, heinous enough for crimes they haven’t even committed or the fainting voice of a teenager who committed suicide in response to the fear of being bullied again – these narratives are linked together by a delicate thread – ‘What wrong did they do, to face the consequential experience?’

The situations in conflict-torn region of Darfar (Sudan) are extreme, to such an extent that children in camps of Fata Borno tell UNICEF Officers “we are here, please don’t forget us”. The act of forgetting is closely tied to the act of remembering. History writing is interesting, not only because it glorifies one set of events to the level of nationalist consciousness, but simultaneously deems irrelevant the narratives of thousands of ‘insignificant’ individuals through the political art of silencing. The history of memory, then, is equally a political act of depoliticizing certain specifically chosen voices to represent and validate the history, almost as a natural occurrence, thereby taking away the agency from specific communities to retell their story, their past. It is not that the subaltern subject cannot speak, the question rather becomes, as Prof. Gayatri Spivak accounts, is ‘can the subaltern be heard’.

So when this hitherto unperturbed mainstream consciousness is met with a reality check through a kaleidoscope-like vision, what we unfurl beneath the layers of our oblivion is a struggle. A struggle gets re-conceptualized in extraordinary movements – to reinstate that #BlackLivesMatter, or as Lila Abu-Lughod would refer, to an ‘unbelievable’ variant of Islamic feminism, evident in Muslim women’s reassertion of cultural heterogeneity, and embracing various forms of wearing the head-scarfs and Islamic veils as against the popular conceptualization of them being ‘victims’ in dire need of ‘saving’. My question still remains – why do only some persons, groups, communities have to struggle to make their voice heard? Why does the recognition of a non-mainstream narrative made possible only in its capacity as a movement threatening existing status-quo? Why does it take for the State Attorney (Baltimore, Maryland) to recognize the disproportionate impact of criminal justice system on people ‘of colour’? This struggle – however a spark in history, is nevertheless a painful journey. Amidst the tussle between special recognition and complete integration (into the mainstream), the struggling voices shall forever be viewed as an exception than a norm. The history of non-mainstream lives are tailored to structure the permanence of the mainstream, like the fine contours demarcating ‘us’ from ‘them’. The mechanisms of control pervade not only in normalizing the discourse, but equally in exploiting and refusing to hear the other – the very act of denial often guides our willingness to forget. We struggle, we fight, some of us even give up our lives, but only few are privileged to be regarded as martyrs. How is the life of a factory worker dying due to industrial toxic fumes each day, any less significant than the soldier who dies on-field protecting the honour of our respective nation-states? To me, there isn’t, but that’s easier said than done, since our privilege equally blinds us to the very ‘privilege of ignorance’ – the fact that we can often choose to ignore our caste identities or class positions is precisely because it hasn’t affected our life struggles. But where ascribed identities determine the extent of achievement, we are destined to struggle or lead a life with the fear that our stories will soon be forgotten. Who is to be held accountable?

In the constant Foucauldian struggle between ‘subjection’ (as individuals’ submission to domination) and ‘subjectification’ (an identity created for us not in terms of who we are, but what we come to represent as per the gaze of the dominant group), we are increasingly giving away a crucial component of who we truly are, in the effort to contest what they’ve made of us. It is time to recognize the sincerity of these struggles as the real foundations of our histories and her-stories.

Women Wednesday: Meet the women from Morocco

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The women from Morocco will be taking over our social media tomorrow, so we wanted to give you a chance to get to know them.

Sarah studies architecture and urban design and would like to pursue a career in management. If she could give her younger self advice, she would say that it is important to say, “Yes!” to trying new things. She would like for more people to see how caring she is and to appreciate everything she has to offer. To top it all off, she loves mango and lemon ice cream!

Rania is an aerospace engineering student. She would like to tell her younger self, “Don’t give up on yourself, believe in yourself! You’ll grow up to be awesome!” She loves chocolate! She also would like the world to know how diverse Morocco is and how welcoming the people are.

Khaoula is a self-described “very loud person” who loves pizza. She is currently studying English literature. Her advice to her younger self is something we can all listen to. She says, “It doesn’t get better unless you get up and do something about it. Remember to dream big and never stop believing.”

Youmn studies business and management who would like the world to know that Morocco is a country undergoing some dyanmic changes. Particularly, with increased striving for human rights there has been an increase in opportunity. By the way, she loves mini pizzas with tuna! Youmn would tell her younger self, “Have fun and don’t be too shy; you’re worth it!”

These enthusiastic, talented and driven women have already been so so fun to get to know. We hope you enjoy getting to hear from them tomorrow. Be sure to stay tuned for more updates from all of the 2015 cohort!

Learn more about the 2015 Kansas Participants

Cameron headshotCameron McLaughlin

Kansas State University
Sophomore
Public Relations and Journalism
Colby, Kansas

My name is Cameron McLaughlin and I am a sophomore at Kansas State University studying public relations, with an outside concentration in marketing. A small town gal at heart, I spent my childhood and adolescences in Colby, Kansas. In high school I was able to be involved in many different clubs and organizations that have helped transform me into the person I am today. In college I continue to grow by being involved with various organizations. Currently I am the Director of Standards and Ethics for my sorority, Alpha Delta Pi. I also work for the non-profit agency TakeFlight, which is a student organization that offers public relations assistance to clients. Additionally I am a staff writer for the Kansas State student newspaper, The Collegian. At a very young age I found that communicating with others is my passion. May it be through written or verbal words, I am a lover of the art of communicating and building relationships. I hope to some day be working for an organization that challenges me to give back on a larger scale, while advocating for something I find of great purpose. As of now I am still figuring out what that great purpose may be, but I’m positive that as I grow more as a student and as a person I will find the end to that search. I am excited to see how the KWLI family can help me to grow and also to see what I can give back to them. I hope to connect with the other members on this awesome journey and I am confident that this is experience will leave me fulfilled. Thank you again, KWLI!

Casie headshotCasie Spangler

Washburn University
Sophomore
History
Tecumseh, Kansas

Hello! My name is Casie Spangler and I am from Tecumseh, Kansas. I am currently a sophomore at Washburn University. In the fall of 2015 I will transfer to the University of Kansas where I plan to double major in Environmental Studies and Economics. With these majors I hope to eventually attend law school in order to study environmental law. I always knew that I was passionate about law and having the chance to help others, but I often questioned how I would be useful to others. I recently discovered my passion for the environment and I realized that a great way to help people was to make sure that we live in a healthy environment with sustainable and clean energy. Since I have left high school, I realized that I have little confidence in my leadership abilities. I hope that the Kansas Women’s Leadership Institute will help me establish confidence in myself, teach me how be an even better leader, and give me the ability to inspire other women and girls to seek out leadership positions even when men hold most of those positions today. I am incredibly excited to meet my fellow KWLI participants and hopefully create many new friendships with women from all over the world!

Crystal headshotCrystal Bradshaw

University of Kansas
Sophomore
English: Creative Writing
Jetmore, Kansas

My name is Crystal Bradshaw. I am a sophomore studying English: Creative Writing at the University of Kansas. I was raised in Jetmore, Kansas. Growing up in rural Kansas has made me a farm girl by heart. My future goals include establishing my own publishing company which will specialize in promoting young writers’ works. Through this, I hope to one day travel the world, spreading the importance of reading and writing one’s story. My experience as a leader has been very diverse and allowed me to assist others efficiently. In high school, I co-established the first and only tutoring program for students in my local high/middle school. Also, I led my teammates in basketball and Track & Field. At KU, I became a University Daily Kansan Opinion Columnist, Freshman Leadership Council member, Spanish/Biology tutor, Multicultural Scholar, Honors Peer Mentor, Honors Seminar Assistant, and Honors Resident Assistant. In January 2015, I had the wonderful opportunity of traveling to Costa Rica with Professor Mary Klayder and taught English phrases to Costa Rican locals. Education has always been of great value in my family. But to me, one’s education is worth nothing if it is not passed on to the next generation.

Erin headshotErin Taylor

University of Kansas
Freshman
Political Science; minor in Leadership Studies
Silver Lake, Kansas

I grew up in Silver Lake, Kansas, where small town spirit and rich tradition ran deep. I made Lawrence my chosen home during the summer of 2014 and began attending the University of Kansas in the fall. Next semester I will be a sophomore at KU majoring in Political Science with hopes of focusing on women’s rights and activism in the Middle East. I am passionate about people and their stories, and I love to listen. The best part of my job as a hostess at the Oread Hotel is when I get to have conversations with guests; I’ve quickly learned that everyone has at least a few things in common if you get to know someone well enough, which is partially why I stand so strongly for equality. I have a burning desire to promote equality for all, and I believe that starts with women and members of the LGBTQ community in the work force. During my experience in the KWLI, I truly hope to take away a greater understanding of women who live their lives in cultures so vastly different than that in which I grew up in. I hope to inspire my peers to be confident in their identity as a woman, and I hope to create a sisterhood with amazing women from all parts of the world. 

Maggie headshotMaggie Dunning

Southwestern College
Junior
Communication Studies
Winfield, Kansas

I am a navy brat so I don’t have a hometown. However I was born on a naval base in San Diego California. I am a junior majoring in communication at Southwestern College in Winfield Kansas. I am passionate about women’s rights and underdogs. I would love to be able to give people all over the world access to information so that they can understand others and get along in harmony and respect one another. I hope to gain the skills to maximize my leadership potential and attain life long friends during my time in the KWLI program. 

Margarita headshotMargarita Nuñez Arroyo

University of Kansas
Sophomore
Journalism; minor in dance
Emporia, Kansas

My name is Margarita Alely Nunez Arroyo and I am a Mexican American woman. I am a sophomore student at the University of Kansas, my family and I currently live in Emporia, Kansas however my hometown will always be Compton, California. My major is Journalism with a minor in dance. I am a member of HALO Hispanic American Leadership Organization, a writer for Her Campus KU, a member of FNSA First Nations Student Association, and a member of the Scholarship Hall Community- living in Watkins. I am excited for Kansas Women’s Leadership Institute because I am engrossed into social justice and I am amazed by words. Thus all these women I will meet, who may or may not look like me, will be filled with words to describe their experience as a woman. I am sure this program will be very beneficial for me no only as a student but as a woman in the United States.

Kansas Applications Go Live

We are very excited to begin the application process for our second year of Kansas participants in the KWLI. Our vision has always been to create a world in which women’s leadership is realized to be essential in every thriving community. For the first few years of our grant with the Department of State we had the privilege of working toward that world by elevating the power of women’s voices in communities in other countries. But, we always knew that making that same difference right here at home was ultimately critical to truly fulfilling our vision. What we know from experience is that women from small and rural communities in Kansas face many similar issues as do those in Casablanca, Morocco, New Delhi, India, and even Kabul, Afghanistan. Sure, the context and cultures might differ, but the desire for women to have educational opportunities, access to quality health care (particularly women’s health care), to be free from domestic violence, and free from gender-based discrimination is, in fact, the same. Through the KWLI we provide the opportunity for women in Kansas to unite with women from around the world on the topics that are most important to them. In our program they engage in a curriculum designed to help them tackle those challenges, elevate their voices as women, expand their leadership capacity, develop a powerful and lasting network of support, and change their communities for the better. The application and selection process for Kansas women is designed to mirror the selection of our international participants. Thus, contacts at various Kansas higher education institutions serve as the first round of the process. You can see a listing of our College & University Partners here. You can also find more details, and a copy of the application, at our apply page. Both University Partners and interested applications, can get in touch with our Academic Program Coordinator, Addison Keegan-Harris at (785) 864-8207 or addisonkh@ku.edu. She is the primary contact for the selection process and will be happy to assist you in any way.