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Fulbright graduates attend SMC re-entry seminar

| Sunday, April 13, 2014

Saint Mary’s College hosted 2014 Fulbright Women’s Re-entry Seminar this past week.
The seminar, held April 9-13, included about 45 female Fulbright graduate students from Latin America and the Caribbean, according to the Saint Mary’s press release. In the seminar, students examined the difficulties they may face in their re-entry into the professional communities of their home countries.
The Saint Mary’s Center for Women’s Intercultural Leadership (CWIL) focused on the re-entry process and women’s leadership, Mana Derakhshani, associate director of CWIL, said.
“The seminar is focused on helping the women with the transition back to their home countries. Workshops deal with reverse culture shock, leadership styles, women’s issues globally and practical skills such as networking, grant-writing, problem-solving and conflict resolution,” Derakhshani said.
In addition to sessions led by CWIL faculty and staff and Saint Mary’s political science and English professors, the press release said five participants from the local community were invited to engage as part of a panel discussion.
“Each of the women on the panel of local women leaders shared with the participants their personal leadership journey and talked about challenges they had faced and ways that they had overcome them,” Derakhshani said.
The panel members included Kathryn Schneider, executive director of St. Margaret’s House; Linda Baechle, president and CEO of the YWCA of North Central Indiana; Andrea Popielski, executive director of Hannah’s House; Jesusa Rivera, Mexican-American community activist and bilingual case manager for Proteus and Yully Ortega, a Hispanic quality expansion specialist for the Indiana Association for Child Care Resources and Referral, the press release said.
Another local, retired director of bilingual services for the South Bend Community School Corporation, Maritza Robles, was the seminar’s keynote speaker.
Derakhshani said the seminar schedule was very intensive, although some events were planned to provide social interludes.
“Events of note were the visit to the Amish community for a specially prepared Amish meal in an Amish home and a tour of the Menno Hof museum, the panel of women leaders followed by the opportunity to visit the organizations that they represented, dinner and an evening at a local family’s home and attending ‘The Wiz,’ a musical theater show at the South Bend Civic Theater,” Derakhshani said.
At the end of the seminar, the women will complete their studies, according to the press release.
Derakhshani said the women attended from universities all across the country.
Although the application process to host the seminar was highly competitive, Derakhshani said Saint Mary’s had a well-established involvement with the Fulbright Program.
“Saint Mary’s has hosted Foreign Language Fulbright Teaching Assistants in Arabic and Chinese for the past few years,” she said. “Saint Mary’s faculty have obtained Fulbright grants for research or teaching abroad [and] students have obtained Fulbright grants to go to graduate school … or to teach English in another country.”
She also noted the similarity between the seminar’s mission and the College’s.
“While we have never hosted this specific event before, Fulbright’s goals for the participants … are closely aligned with Saint Mary’s mission of preparing women to make a difference in the world,” Meyer-Lee said.
“Through this event, we hope to shine a light on Saint Mary’s College as a place that prepares women to become global leaders. We also knew that having 35 to 40 young women from overseas on our campus would widen our horizons if only a few days,” Derakhshani said.

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About Tabitha Ricketts

As of this summer (2013), I hail from Clarkston, Michigan. I am a junior in the Saint Mary's College dual-degree engineering program, pursuing a degree in English Writing from Saint Mary's and Computer Science from the University of Notre Dame. I have written for the Saint Mary's News department of the Observer since my freshman year, and began working for Viewpoint last spring.

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