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Posts Tagged ‘China’

As a young child, I hated to read. I was terrible at it, and as a result, I lacked confidence in the classroom. I was lucky to have a teacher who gave me one-on-one attention each week. I will be forever grateful for how she changed my life and helped me believe in myself.

Bethany Rayl, an AAUW Eleanor Roosevelt Fund Awardee, was inspired by similar situations. Growing up, she saw how certain teachers engaged with students on a meaningful level. And later, as a teacher herself, she became acutely aware of the equity issues that are overlooked in schools. To help fight these problems, Rayl developed the Young Women’s Success Corpsat Bay City Central High School in Michigan, where she engaged young women in math, science, and technology activities. Rayl remembers that participants said, “Man, this is fun, I can do this. I can be a scientist.”

Rayl is also a global leader and educator. As a Gerstacker Fellow, she explored education in other countries. For a year, she and 11 other educators learned about global leadership from various perspectives, such as communication and finance. “As much as cultures are different, it was nice to see the similarity,” she said. She traveled to Shanghai, China, and Tokushima, Japan.

Rayl has worn many hats in the education field — as a teacher, in a variety of administration positions, and as the regional executive for the Widening Advancements for Youth (W-A-Y) Program. The organization personalizes education for disenfranchised youth through project-based education and is the only program in the United States that is partnered with the Inclusion Trust, a United Kingdom-based nonprofit whose efforts W-A-Y is replicatingto engage youth here in the states.

W-A-Y is unique in that it allows participants to connect both online and in person. Students can visit the website 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, which means that they have access to a teacher at all times! The program equips each student with an online mentor and team leaders who assist in breaking down the barriers that students face at home and in school. In addition, content-area experts help co-create projects with the students based on their interests. For example, if a student is interested in basketball but needs to do a physics project, the content-area expert helps the student connect the two subjects. The program currently serves more than 100 districts in Michigan.

Rayl said that their goal is to eliminate the dropout crisis since “211 students drop out every day in Michigan, and nationally over a million drop out every day.” Perhaps you think that slashing the dropout rate to zero is a lofty goal, but Rayl is motivated and hopes to find solutions and focus on what is best for young people.

This post was written by AAUW Fellowships and Grants Intern Elyssa Shildneck.

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Tomorrow is International Women’s Day, which is observed on March 8 each year to honor and celebrate the economic, political, and social achievements of women. But at AAUW, every day is International Women’s Day!

AAUW states and branches hold weekly events in their local communities that focus on the empowerment of women and girls, including conferences, theatrical performances, lectures, awards ceremonies, book discussions, films, camps, career days, and political rallies. March 8 may focus worldwide attention on women, but AAUW does it every day as a part of our mission to break through barriers for women and girls.

For International Women’s Day 2012, we would like to salute our 239 current AAUW fellows and grantees who are making a difference in the United States and around the globe. And we’d like to spotlight our 2011–12 International Project Grantees former International Fellows who are working on innovative projects in their home countries. So take a few minutes to read about the important advocacy these women are doing on behalf of women and girls worldwide.

Rukeme Ake, Nigeria
Girl Skill Acquisition and Personal Development Project

Ake is implementing a capacity-building project for women who aren’t in school to provide vocational and life-skills training, which will enable them to become economically productive, improve their ability to protect themselves against abuse, and contribute to the advancement of society.

Nasreen Mazumdar, India
Natural Polymer-Based Iodine Supplementation to Combat Iodine Deficiency Disorders

Iodine deficiency disorders are a major public health concern in India. This project focuses on expecting and lactating mothers who are prone to developing iodine deficiency. The goal is to produce an iodine supplement that will prevent iodine deficiency in pregnant women.

Diedie Weng, China
Yongji Organic Farmer Video Network Training Program

International Fellow Diedie Weng films local Yongji women.

Yongji is traditionally one of the most important agricultural production bases in northern China. The Yongji Organic Agriculture Co-op, founded in 1998 and currently led by local women, is currently expanding because of the market demands for organic products. There is a strong local need for organic farming knowledge and skills. This project trains women to use participatory video to engage local farmers in documenting and discussing local techniques and challenges. The project is creating the first rural-based participatory video network in China that empowers women’s leadership in the organic agriculture movement.

Patience Ogele, Côte d’Ivoire
Graceland Fish Farms Project

Women and girls are expanding their fish-farming and fish-preservation activities to generate income for household needs. The project offers rearing and production techniques for tilapia and catfish, education workshops on improving fish-farming methods, and farm-management, preservation, marketing, and bookkeeping skills.

Anjali Srinivasan, India
Reclaiming Heritage — Traditional Artisan Glassmaking

Taking advantage of the growing interest in glass objects among interior designers and local markets, this project trains women in glassmaking: blowing (for vessels), flame working (for beads), kiln forming (for tiles), mold making (for sculpture), cold working (for finishing jobs), and management (as technicians and administrators).

Want to know what’s happening on International Women’s Day? Follow @AAUW, @AAUWGlobal, and #AAUWDialog on Twitter, and check out our Facebook page, where you can share your event or contribute to the conversation.

We’ve accomplished a lot, but there’s so much more to be done. Follow AAUW’s example and make every day International Women’s Day.

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Career Development Grantee Carrie Ellett teaching at Instituto (or ISPEDIBSHA), a multicultural and bilingual school in the Schuar territory in Gualaquiza

This week has been full of news about the Clinton Global Initiative, initiated in 2005 by former President Bill Clinton “to inspire, connect, and empower a community of global leaders to forge solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.” Specifically, the New York Times ran an article about the Teach for All program, modeled after Teach for America and dedicated to an ongoing effort to recruit teachers internationally. Teach for All was founded at the 2007 CGI meeting, a collaboration between Clinton and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

This news has made me consider my role as the new AAUW Fellowships and Grants intern. I’ve known AAUW as a multifaceted organization supporting the further empowerment and education of women in the United States. I now realize that there is also an outstanding global component, as seen by the work of the extraordinary fellows and grantees that I am just getting to know. Education — the cornerstone of AAUW — has opened many doors of opportunity for women, and global education facilitates the growth of women’s empowerment on an international scale.

Career Development Grantee Danna Lomax working with her students at Anacapa Middle School in California

At AAUW, fellows and grantees have a passion for the field of global education with multiple and unique areas of specialization. Many recipients in the 2011–12 class demonstrate the complex nature of this field. Here are a few notable examples:

  • Carrie Ellett has spent a decade promoting gender equality through her nonprofit work. She is now pursuing a master’s degree in international and multicultural education, emphasizing human rights education.
  • After completing her master’s, Fulbright recipient and bilingual educator Danna Lomax hopes to create a curriculum that fosters global youth education. She has been featured in PBS’s Innovation Awards Gallery for her engaging teaching methods.
  • Patience Fielding investigates women who overcame patriarchal barriers to pursue careers in engineering and science fields. Her work focuses on higher education and gender in developing nations.
  • Lifang Wang, who is researching her dissertation in China, is focusing on the barriers faced by rural Chinese women who attend urban Chinese universities. Lifang has previously worked with the U.N. Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization.

International Fellow Lifang Wang in rural China

These extraordinary women are impressive for their scholarship as well as their passion for women’s empowerment globally. As I continue my work at AAUW, I look forward to seeing the outstanding work they and all AAUW fellows produce.

This post was written by AAUW Fellowships and Grants Intern Elyssa Shildneck.

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Abigail J. Stewart, the 2011 Eleanor Roosevelt Fund Award winner, will accept her award during the AAUW National Convention on Saturday, June 18 in Washington, D.C. Stewart earned this distinction for her illuminating research on women’s professional and personal choices. Read on to find out more about this remarkable woman.

Tell us about your research.

I’ve spent much of my research life in psychology studying the personalities and life choices that college-educated women made, focusing especially on their participation in family life, in various careers, and especially in political life. I’ve been interested in the impact that social historical events — like wars, the women’s movement, the civil rights, and other social protest movements — have had on them.

As the women I’ve studied have aged (along with me), I’ve gotten interested in their aging process, and most recently I’ve worked a lot on understanding how they come to terms with the regrets they have about missed opportunities or unfortunate life choices. I have loved doing this work, partly because I have felt I was helping make my field more aware of the importance of women’s lives.

About 10 years ago I started working with many colleagues and students on documenting “global feminisms.” We interviewed women’s movement activists and scholars in four countries — China, India, Poland, and the United States — and created a website with the interviews (both in video and transcript form) and background materials. This interdisciplinary, international project is meant to be a lasting resource for scholars, teachers, and students, and we are still adding to it — most recently with a new set of interviews being collected in Nicaragua.

Finally, also about 10 years ago, I began to work on the stubborn problem of the relative absence of women professors in science and engineering. In this work I have found ways to bring my scholarly training and my activist impulses together, and that has been very satisfying. I have learned a lot from doing this work — about the courage, resilience, and accomplishments of so many women in those fields; about the continued inequities women face in certain corners of our culture; about the importance of the commitment of some men to addressing those inequities; about the difficulty of making institutional changes, the urgency of doing so, and the success that comes with working in alliance with many others — women and men — on issues that really matter.

What are your hopes for young women?

I hope they are able to recognize and understand the inequities that are part of their inheritance without being discouraged or overwhelmed by them. A combination of clear-eyed understanding and determination will take them so far, and we need the contributions they can and will make to our troubled world.

What famous woman would you want to meet?

It seems silly in this context to say that it would be Eleanor Roosevelt, but it would. I so admire all that she accomplished throughout her life, but perhaps most of all the way she remained committed, vigorous, and inspiring into old age. Her work for human rights has defined a moral and material agenda for the entire world for decades; it is a towering achievement of the 20th century, and it continues to inspire in this century.

What makes me think it would be fun to meet her is the fact that she didn’t take herself too seriously. I love that she said, “I’m so glad I never feel important. It does complicate life.”

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When I was 10, I watched Gail Devers win the gold in the women’s 100m sprint and thought I’d like to run. Track has always been my favorite Olympic sport, but it took me a long time to get into running myself.

With a little help from rugby training and a graduate school schedule that drove me to want to spend long hours alone, clearing my head, I have become something of a runner. As I train to complete my third marathon this fall, I find I’m extra excited for these Olympic Games, which kick off tomorrow (my personal opinions on the suitability of the host country and its gender testing aside).

I went up to Boston for the women’s marathon trials and watched a former classmate (American University ’03, but I didn’t know her) and an acquaintance compete for their shot on the team. Unfortunately, they didn’t make it, but I did get to see a phenomenal race that ended with my hero, women’s distance phenom, and bronze medalist in Athens, Deena Kastor, come from behind to win.

So yes, I’m obsessed with the marathon. But when you add up all that, the fact that the women’s marathon has only been an event for 24 years, Paula Radcliffe’s struggle to compete, and the emergence of Ryan Hall, can you blame me?

But this Olympics will have so much more to celebrate. Iraq will have a team. A 41-year-old woman will compete. Michael Phelps will go for eight golds.

And we at AAUW will again take this opportunity to celebrate Title IX and the fact that almost all athletes have the chance to compete on the world stage. What sports are you looking forward to? Who are your favorite athletes?

Let the Games begin!

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