Twenty-six years ago Luann Dummer, PhD, a professor in the English Department, endowed a center for women, which opened the following year. Her donation also funded an annual Women’s History Month speaker series.
Last week the Women’s History Month speaker was Ann Bancroft, explorer, educator and environmentalist.
To celebrate the center’s anniversary, community members gathered there on International Women’s Day, March 8, to see a presentation about some of the art works acquired over the years. They also held a celebration of the life of Meg Wilkes Karraker, PhD, the center’s first director. Karraker died last fall.
Earlier in the week, an International Women’s Day reception was held.
Since 1911 when it was first celebrated, the day applauds the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women globally and is a call to action for accelerating gender parity.
About 40 women and men attended the gathering hosted by the women’s center, and the Office of International Students and Scholars. Female leaders from several student organizations and from the administration shared their stories about coming to the United States.
Many talked about the duality of not quite fitting in when in the U.S. and when traveling back home, not quite fitting in there either. A few international attendees agreed that it was like being two different people, depending on the location.
Some attendees mentioned that they liked the freedoms that women have in the U.S. compared to their home countries. For example, one woman said that smiling at a boy means you like him in her home country, but here, “It’s just being friendly,” she said.
One woman said she felt safer in the U.S. than in her home country.
However, a Latina student said she didn’t like the comments she received from U.S. men because Latina women are often “sexualized.”
Many more women shared their stories. The goals of the event were to listen, learn and support international women.