News & EVents
Asian University for Women
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Last weekend, a group of Afghan AUW students vigorously cheered on their home team at a cricket match between Afghanistan and Bangladesh. Excited to see their favourite players in action, the students travelled nine hours by bus from Chittagong to the remote stadium.
In a virtually all-male setting, the band of cheering Afghan women waving flags and crying “Afghanistan perozi az aane mast” (“Afghanistan, victory is ours!”) caught the attention of a few media outlets in the region. Mursal Hamraz, a fourth-year undergraduate at AUW, told the Hindustan Times: "It's time to get over those (Taliban) fears. How long will we live with them? They don't even support these games. We are against them and want to show them that we support sport. We want to end gender discrimination.”
You can read the article on Dhaka Tribune: http://www.dhakatribune.com/cricket/2014/mar/01/afghan-delight-small-heartening
Last week, Cambodia’s Phnom Penh Post profiled AUW’s Duong Leakena, a Politics, Philosophy & Economics major set to graduate in May 2014. (Click here to read her profile) When Duong arrived at AUW nearly five years ago, she was unsure of how she would adjust to life in Bangladesh. Now, as she prepares to graduate and return to her home country of Cambodia, she has no doubt that she made the right choice in coming to AUW. “It gave me a special opportunity to meet and interact with many young talented women from different nationalities and backgrounds,” she says. “I have learned [about] many different aspects of life.”
Duong has been an active part of the AUW community, participating in the Japanese Club, Guitar Club, and Basketball Club and helping to organize for the One Billion Rising event. Duong also works as a research assistant for an AUW professor. Learning from her peers and from the “amazing” leadership of her professors, Duong says, has helped her develop into an independent woman and a critical thinker. After graduation, she plans to return to Cambodia to apply what she has learned at AUW as she embarks on her professional life.
This year, AUW’s student body represents more countries than ever before—for the first time, we welcomed students from Syria, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Gaza in Palestine. Among our new partners in recruitment and admissions is the Toronto-based Daughters for Life Foundation, which works to advance education and health for girls and women in the Middle East.
The first group of Daughters for Life Scholars comes from Syria and Palestine. Asma’a Awadallah Abushabab, a Daughters for Life Scholar, came to AUW from Gaza, Palestine, which posed some unique challenges. By the time she was able to get a passport, visa, and permission from the authorities to cross the border, she had already missed several weeks of classes. Then, before she could cross into Egypt, the border was closed suddenly and indefinitely. Asma’a, along with thousands of others, was stuck inside Gaza, with no idea of when or if she would be able to travel to Bangladesh. She recalls thinking, “Oh my God, I might lose my chance to achieve my dream.” Now that she is at AUW and diligently catching up on weeks of missed classes, Asma’a is relishing the opportunity to study with women from all over the region. “I have friends from Vietnam, Bangladesh, [and] Syria,” she notes. She wants to return to Gaza after she graduates from AUW, in order to improve public health and access to healthcare there.
Another Daughters for Life Scholar, Reem Kosay Razzouk, also wants to be a part of public health efforts in her home country. She came to AUW from Hama, Syria. Her family had to move after the civil war began, but Reem was determined to focus on her education despite the violence going on around her. At AUW, she is excited to have the chance to explore a variety of disciplines through the liberal arts curriculum, and to participate in the student organizations on campus. Most of all, though, she is passionate about empowering the people of Syria with access to healthcare. “I want to go back home to Syria,” she says when asked about her future goals. “I want to give them something from me, to help my city, my country, and to help any country that I [can].”
We are honored to have these extraordinary young women studying at the Asian University for Women, and we are proud to share their stories with you. Thank you for your continued support.
JP Morgan’s annual Give-It-Away campaign allows the public to vote on which non-profit organizations they think should receive the company’s generous gifts of USD $25,000 each. Last year’s winners were Accion East, Aflatoun, and the Grameen Foundation. AUW is up against two other organizations in the Asia Pacific region, and you can help by voting for us here: https://www.jpmorgan.com/cm/cs?pagename=jpmorgan/careers/JPM_Content_C/Give-It-Away&type=vote®ion=apac&cid=1320496979591
Three AUW students appeared on the television program Korea Today to talk about their experiences at AUW, their internships with Korea EximBank, and the status of women’s education in Bangladesh. Mowmita Basak (Class of 2013), Afroza Alam (Class of 2014), and Nishat Raihana (Class of 2015) gave insight into the challenges and rewards of studying at an English-language university in Bangladesh that focuses on women. Although they spoke almost no English before arriving and had no experience with cultural diversity, the young women said that learning with peers from all over Asia, and having opportunities like their current internship, has been inspiring and life-changing. Afroza, who had never left Bangladesh before coming to Korea this summer, noted that her life path is markedly different from that of many of her friends, who dropped out of high school to get married. Education, the three girls agreed, is essential to making sure that more women have access to the kinds of opportunities that they are pursuing.
Although they know that Bangladesh is still a patriarchal society with stigmas surrounding women’s education, the students expressed hope that institutions like AUW are bringing change to their country. Nishat noted that the students of AUW are working not only toward their own education, but engaging with their communities whenever they can by organizing community service projects in Chittagong. They hope to become role models for their families and their society—as their own perspective are broadened by their courses, their peers, and their experiences abroad, these young women see a chance to change their society’s expectations about women and girls.
You can watch their appearance on Korea Today here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EEbIGYskEC8
Two Korean national newspapers, the Chosun Ilbo and the Korea Times, have published articles on AUW students who are spending their summers interning with Korea’s EximBank, the state-owned institution that finances the country’s exports and imports. The three students from Bangladesh, Mowmita Basak (Class of 2013), Afroza Alam (Class of 2014), and Nishat Raihana (Class of 2015), spoke eloquently about how education at AUW has transformed their lives.
They cited critical thinking, appreciation for cultural diversity, and English-language skills as among the most important tools they have gained from their time at AUW. All three young women spoke of a desire to bring what they have learned back to their communities and serve their societies when they graduate.
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