News & EVents
Asian University for Women
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It’s back-to-school season in Chittagong, where AUW held its first day of fall classes on August 24th. Students enjoyed four days of orientation filled to the brim with department open houses, dormitory community building, course selections, and reunions with old friends.
This year, AUW welcomed 93 Access Academy students and 24 direct-entry undergraduate first-year students, joining peers from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Palestine, Sri Lanka, Syria, and Vietnam. We are delighted to introduce you to some of these young women:
Azra Jawaid comes from Bihar, India, where she grew up speaking Hindi and Urdu with her mother, and absorbing a love of debate from her father. Her talents don’t stop at languages: Azra is a talented mathematician, having placed in the 95th percentile in math for all four years of high school, and coming in as the top ranked student in the subject in twelfth grade. In addition to studying math, which Azra says calls on her patience, concentration, and competitive nature, Azra is looking forward to studying science and art history at AUW. She is also already thinking about summer plans: for her, working overseas in a summer internship would be “a dream come true.”
Sumaiya Sharmin is a new Access Academy student who is excited to be pursuing an international education in her own hometown of Chittagong, Bangladesh. After hearing about AUW when she was in 8th grade, Sumaiya made it her goal to be able to enroll in the university and study biology, her passion inspired by her studies of Gregor Mendel. When Sumaiya travels to different parts of Bangladesh, the diversity of botany always catches her eye, and she sees herself earning a PhD in genetic engineering one day. For now, Sumaiya’s short-term goals at AUW are to learn new skills – she hopes to pick up guitar and basketball – and immerse herself in the diverse community. She said, “It’s important to feel as comfortable in a city bus as you do in a private car. That’s why I wanted to come to AUW: to learn about different people and to learn tolerance.”
For AUW, September marks the time for new beginnings and renewed resolutions. As our students eagerly start their first homework assignments and attend lectures with new professors, we dedicate ourselves to ensuring that these students can enjoy their AUW education without the concerns of financial disadvantage. We are so grateful for your support of AUW students.
As the summer comes to a close, many of our students are reflecting on their recent internships. These experiences are crucial for professional development and exploring potential careers, which is why AUW encourages students to hold an internship in business, NGO, and government contexts before graduating. We write to tell you about a few of our outstanding students and their accomplishments at internships in various countries this year.
Anshu Adhikari - Birgunj, Nepal
Class of 2015 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics
Working for the Communications department at Bayer Thailand, Anshu’s initial work writing articles and announcements impressed the Marketing department so much that they assigned her supplemental responsibilities, including a social entrepreneurship project in Cambodia and organizing a town hall meeting in Myanmar. Anshu noticed a difference between her own preparation and the other interns, saying “When they give presentations, they aren’t as confident. But for me, AUW has taught me how to speak publicly and prepare for important presentations.” These skills will stay in the spotlight this coming year, as Anshu takes on her role as President of the student body.
Gulsom Mirzada - Kabul, Afghanistan
Class of 2016 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics
As an intern in the Finance Directorate of the Ministry of Counter Narcotics in Afghanistan, Gulsom learned aboutmore than the national budget. She also realized the need for greater inclusivity of women in the government, a topic that she wasable to explore further at the gender equality workshops she attended at the US Embassy. Although she has two more years at AUW, Gulsom is already thinking about her future plans. She says, “I would like to work for the government because they need change in this generation,” and believes she can help create that change.
Meihui Lan - Guangxi, China
Class of 2015 - Environmental Studies
After her “wonderful experience at L’Oreal China,” Meihui feels even more motivated to learn as much as she can from AUW and attend graduate school. Meihui enjoyed the creativity in her rotation in Public Relations, especially when planning the company’s annual outing. Meihui found that she needed to do more research on the Chinese market in order to contribute at meetings, but she said AUW prepared her well for delving into her uncertainties. She described how, “We also need to know how to raise our voice – to ask questions… That’s what we learned from AUW.”
These students represent a sliver of the talent and drive of the young women we educate. We rely on the generosity of our donors to continue to support students like Anshu, Gulsom, and Meihui. We hope you will consider donating to AUW at https://donate.asian-university.org/. Thank you for your valuable support.
AUW is delighted to announce that Moumita Saha, AUW Class of 2017, has received a partial scholarship from the Running Goddess, an organization committed to supporting women and girls in their pursuit of health and education. We would like to thank the Running Goddess and its Board for their generous support to the Asian University for Women, Moumita and all our inspiring students.
To read Moumita’s full profile, click here: http://therunninggoddess.com/2014/06/moumita-saha-bio/
You can find more information on the Running Goddess and the causes they support on their website: http://therunninggoddess.com/2013/01/about-us/
The Asian University for Women (AUW) has just registered with AmazonSmile! AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support AUW every time you shop, at no cost to you. When you shop at smile.amazon.com, you’ll find the exact same low prices, vast selection and convenient shopping experience as Amazon.com, with the added bonus that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to AUW. Support AUW by shopping at AmazonSmile: http://smile.amazon.com/ch/36-4483980.
On May 17, 2014, the Asian University for Women (AUW) in Chittagong, Bangladesh celebrated its second Commencement, graduating 131 students from 12 countries. Of the 131 graduates, 62 came from Bangladesh, 4 from Afghanistan, 5 from Bhutan, 3 from Cambodia, 1 from China, 9 from India, 2 from Myanmar, 12 from Nepal, 7 from Pakistan, 2 from Palestine, 18 from Sri Lanka, and 6 from Vietnam. Virtually all students received full financial aid covering all costs of room, board and tuition. Most of the graduating students arrived at the AUW campus five years ago. They completed the one-year Access Academy course and then pursued a four-year undergraduate course in the liberal arts and sciences. This year's graduating class represents the first group of students from the West Bank of Palestine to have graduated from AUW.
The class speaker, Tanjila Drishti from Bangladesh, said “AUW has helped us grow respect and tolerance for all cultures, enabled us to question norms that we perhaps did not even think about before. This institution has not only educated us with the finest faculty and best resources in the region but also inspired us to rise higher in life making our own ethical decisions and empowered us to try for a better life for not only us but for others in our communities.”
The Commencement was attended by family, friends, faculty, staff, and many distinguished guests including, H.E. Mr. Abul Hassan Mohamood Ali, M.P. Foreign Minister of Bangladesh who spoke as the Chief Guest.
Kathy Matsui, Managing Director & Chief Japan Strategist of Goldman Sachs, Co-Chair of the AUW Japan Support Committee, and one of the original founders of the Asian University for Women, was the Commencement Speaker.
In her remarks, Kathy praised the accomplishments of the Class of 2014: “I can’t help but feel incredibly proud, as well as optimistic about the future. Like many AUW supporters around the world, we all strongly believe that women’s education is the key to a peaceful and sustainable future, and I am confident that with such powerful and inspirational leaders such as you, the world is in good hands.”
Lady Judy Moody-Stuart, prominent social activist in London and wife of Sir Mark Moody Stuart, former Chairman of Shell Oil Company, was also honored at the Commencement with an honorary degree. Lady Judy was one of the pioneering supporters of AUW who served for many years on the Board of Directors of the Asian University for Women Support Foundation. She and her family have also created an endowed scholarship at AUW to support a Palestinian student to attend the university in Chittagong.
With over 260 alumnae now spread across Asia and the Middle East, the AUW vision of change making through the commitment and capability and vision of its graduates working collaboratively within and across countries is already being actualized. As year after year more of our students graduate and demonstrate more of their life's energy, a veritable transformation in women's status and the region's condition in general will follow.
You can read more about the special day in the following articles:
Two alumnae from AUW’s pioneer graduate Class of 2013, Kamala KC from Nepal and Duth Kimsru from Cambodia, shared their life stories at the Japan Support Committee's 5th annual film screening and fundraising event on April 22, 2014 in Tokyo. In their remarks, both women highlighted the challenging journeys they took to get to AUW and spoke passionately about the opportunities that an AUW education has provided them. Click here to read their full transcripts.
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.
To read the articles, follow these links:
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