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My place in the world

Kaitlyn Rabach | Sunday, September 1, 2013

I would like to take the opportunity to personally thank the Center for Women’s Intercultural Leadership (CWIL) at Saint Mary’s College and the outstanding women who put in countless hours to make this office one of the most productive centers on campus.
For the past two summers, I have been blessed to work in this office as a mentor and student coordinator for a State Department program titled “Study of the United States Institute” (SUSI).  This institute provides intensive leadership training for undergraduate women leaders around the globe. Over the course of two summers, I have been able to form friendships with women from Burma, Mongolia, Tunisia, Jordan, Iraq, Libya and Egypt. Throughout this five-week institute, we not only worked on forming diplomatic relationships, but also shared laughter, tears and personal stories. Most importantly, though, we dreamed together. We participated in a global dialogue of how the world could look better for women and were then encouraged to not only envision this world, but were actually given the tools to choose our limits and create positive change.
The great thing about the SUSI sisterhood is that we now have a network of strong-minded, positive women who will work together to  keep our own personal dreams well nourished and alive. We each left the program with a different plan to implement in our communities, and now we will hold each other accountable. We know we are not implementing change for just ourselves, but are rather doing it for everyone in SUSI and for our sisters around the world who are active agents of change, but do not necessarily have the tools to push their own dreams forward. I am thankful to be a part of an international community where I will be held responsible for working to constantly promote peace and prosperity.
I am even more thankful for the mentorship opportunities this program has allowed me. Working with Mana Derakhsani, SUSI academic director and Martha Smith, SUSI administrative director, has shown me the importance of having strong female leaders to serve as role models. These are two incredible women who full-heartedly care about the well-being of others and who pour their whole hearts into making sure this institute is a positive experience for all participants. They know the importance of optimism, dedication, knowledge and how important it is to share lessons and experiences with younger generations.
When I was first enrolled at Saint Mary’s, President Carol Mooney promised me a chance to engage in discovery of myself. I can say without a doubt that both the SUSI program and Mana and Martha’s strong leadership have set me on a path of both discovering myself and my place in this world. For that I am truly grateful.