Ever since the late 1970’s women have outnumbered men in college enrollments. That number has been steadily increasing to reach a male to female ratio of 43.6 to 56.4 in public universities and a nearly 40-60 split in private universities, based on 2008 enrollment data from the Digest of Education Statistics.
If women have consistently outnumbered men in college student populations for decades, why are the faculties of colleges dominated by men?
Dr. Shirley Malcom, head of Education and Human Resources, American Association for the Advancement of Science visits the University of California Office of the President to give a lecture in part with UC ADVANCE PAID, a program sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF), that enables campuses to recruit, retain and advance more women and underrepresented minority women faculty in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
One of these remarkable people is Samantha Lynne Wilson, a youth organizer and community builder who, as a UC Riverside undergraduate, enrolled in a program that took her to Hyderabad, India (you can watch her “Going Places” segment here). There she founded and currently serves as the Executive Learner of the Child Leader Project (CLP)— a non-profit organization designed to create safe spaces for young people from Southern California to South India in addressing social justice issues in their local communities.
We asked Wilson if she had some words of advice for students preparing for their own international adventures and she most certainly did. Here they are:
And Who Invited You?: What Every Student Should Ask Before Traveling Abroad Contributed by Samantha Lynne Wilson
I have a bone to pick with success stories: they focus too deeply on one person, neglecting the ecology of people and moments that craft change. Perhaps this blog can be one step towards addressing that.
The far more important and more amazing narrative for one to know (if you are to know anything about my experience in India) are the stories of the young adults in South India expanding the work of child and youth leadership with their own experience, leadership and vision– in India, right now. They formed a young adult-led organization as our Indian partner, the Trust for Youth and Child Leadership (TYCL). This is a team of all-volunteer young adult mentors and child/youth organizers addressing systemic justice issues in their local villages, orphanages and slums.
These young men and women have taught me the most important lesson about being a foreigner in India– to whom or what do you belong? The most important thing a study abroad student can do is ask themselves the hard question about what it means to be alive and to be accountable in their host country. Who invited you to this country? What privilege do you carry? To whom or what are you accountable to? While abroad, who are you breaking bread with? In a riff on the words of Ivan Illich, eloquent and seething critic of the benign “well-intentioned” blindness of international volunteerism– “Is your life even alive enough to be shared?”
Study abroad can give us the blog-worthy illusion of “radical” transformation. But real transformation occurs when we think critically about who we belong to, who we are accountable to and how we choose to move in a world where being from North America (and having the privilege to travel abroad) means you have a lot of privilege with a lot to learn.
This privilege does not mean authority. This privilege means responsibility to be self-reflective, critical and make changes that are uncomfortable to your own way of life– not to export your way of life or assume your life to be “the right way.”
Again– is your life alive enough to be shared?
I am accountable to the incredible young adults in India who became my friends, brothers and sisters and who collaborated with me when CLP began and now lead the organization on their own. There are far too many to name here. To name only a small handful, I honor Arumugham, Amala, Shiva, Jugal, Basu, Karthik. I honor the first CLP child leaders who believed in the idea– Priya and Suhasini, Vimal and Arun… to name only some of the first twenty during that first trip to Tamil Nadu. I honor the people among them now and the people who will come after them. My gratitude and my devotion to them and the lessons they teach me –and hopefully teach you– about what accountability to a land and a people really mean.
Listen more. Talk less. Wait for an invitation. Be accountable to your actions, beliefs and privilege.
I learned an important saying in Tamil on one of my most recent trips to visit TYCL– “poyttu varen.” It is said when someone is leaving. It means that “although I go, I will return– because our relationship is important to me.” Or, more sweetly, “Go… and come back.”
So, when you live a life abroad, should you choose to do so, live in such a way that your neighbors, fellow students and teachers, mentors, host families and community might say such a thing to you.
Samantha Lynne Wilson is now in the second year of her Masters in Divinity at Claremont School of Theology, with in a focus on the ministry of youth-led community organizing. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now we have the honor of presenting our interview with David Brin, renowned science fiction author and futurist (possibly the coolest job title on the planet), who discusses the merits and hazards of extrapolation in science fiction while making the case for enlightened optimism in the face of fashionable cynicism.
If you’ve watched UCTV Prime’s “It Came from Riverside” series, then you’ve already had your virtual tour of the world’s largest science fiction and fantasy collection (if not, then we suggest you get on it!). Now we get the chance to bring you some bona fide stars of the genre!
Today it’s a visit from legendary comic book writer and editor Marv Wolfman (Marvel Comics, DC Comics and more), who discusses the art and craft of writing compelling stories with emotionally complex characters and imaginative plots for comics, animation, video games and everything in between.
All of us contribute to the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing climate change. But there are ways we can reduce them. How we travel, what we eat, what we consume, and what we discard are just some of the factors that contribute to our carbon footprint.
Louis S. Santiago, assistant professor of physiological ecology at UC Riverside, thinks we can all contribute to solving this global problem. In the latest installment of our “Earth 101” series, he explains how we can measure our impact on our climate.