Last weekend, Smith’s International Students’ Organization (ISO) hosted Rhythm Nations. The event was a celebration of Smith’s diversity through dance and song.
With twenty acts, Smith and Five-College students showed their appreciation for diversity and showed the audience the beauty of their cultures through performance. It was an exciting experience, from the colorful costumes to the vibrant music—perhaps most notably the opening ceremony had students waving flags from all the countries represented within the Smith community. Each time a student would step up and yell out the name of their home country the crowd roared in applause and cheer. The energy of the crowd and presenters was undeniable.
A variety of performances showcased students from Asia, Latin America, Africa, and more. Some acts had more technical moves incorporated in their routines like Kyungeun Kim’s Jangguchum dance where the dancer appeared to be floating on air with her traditional dress and expert footwork. Others like SC Masti and Mount Holyoke’s Raunak Bhangra used colorful costumes and synchronized dance moves among the group’s performers to create an unforgettable performance blending traditional culture with modern pop. Some, like Yuting Ren’s Caiwei and the Vietnamese Student Association’s “Vi Co Anh” were performed in other languages where they were able to portray the song’s meaning through graceful gestures and dance routines.
Rhythm Nations celebrated the diversity of Smith; this event—like many others—successfully brought students together to celebrate different traditions and cultures.
To see more photos from the event, visit International Advancement on Facebook.
Ayesha Khan ’16 and engineering and English double major, comes from Karachi, Pakistan. When asked why she picked Smith, Ayesha explained that she was “very inspired by the atmosphere of feminism and empowerment.”
Upon arrival, she noticed Smith’s very diverse community, and throughout the past year, Ayesha has developed great friendships with her housemates. She loves the house system and feels her house community is a main contributing factor to her Smith experience. In the Smith community she is involved with Smith’s Organization Resources Committee and the college’s relations office.
Ayesha had the opportunity to represent Smith in the Insight Dubai Leadership Conference last spring. Her experience at the program changed her vision for what she would like to do after Smith. She now sees herself using her unique major combination to engage herself with our global society. As a citizen of the world already, traveling far to receive an education in another culture much different from her own, Ayesha has already placed herself outside of her comfort zone. She said that being away from home is very challenging for her—especially when she has academic stress—but the American and international friends she has made keep her engaged. Going to Teapot and Osaka restaurants with friends on the weekends are some of her favorite things to do in Northampton.
Yesterday, Smith College President Kathleen McCartney announced that the college will award honorary degrees to five distinguished guests at the 136th Commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 18, 2014. The recipients are Ela Bhatt, Eric Carle, Swanee Hunt, Evelyn Fox Keller, and Ruth Simmons.
Two of the recipients—Ela Bhatt and Swanee Hunt—have strong international ties.
Ela Bhatt is an international activist and founder of the Self-Employed Women’s Association of India (SEWA). Deeply influenced by the teachings of Gandhi, with whom her grandparents had worked to achieve Indian independence from Britain, Bhatt has spent most of her life organizing grassroots movements in support of the rights of women and girls. A lawyer by training, Bhatt has focused her work specifically on protecting—and fighting for—the rights of women workers in India. She founded SEWA in 1972 to help women organize for better pay and working conditions in India’s textile industry. Today, the organization has more than a million members and has been called “one of the best—if not the best—grassroots programs for women on the planet.” In 2007, Bhatt was asked by Nelson Mandela to join The Elders, a group of international leaders he had formed to advocate for human rights worldwide. With The Elders, Bhatt has led initiatives to combat child marriage. Throughout her career, Bhatt has been honored with numerous awards, including the Global Fairness Initiative Award and the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development.
Swanee Hunt is the former United States ambassador to Austria and founding director of the Women and Public Policy Program at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. Early in her career, Hunt made a name for herself in Denver, where for nearly 20 years she advocated on behalf of two mayors and the governor for better affordable housing, high-quality public education and women’s empowerment. Later, as ambassador to Austria from 1993 to 1997, she developed an expertise on domestic policy and foreign affairs, especially as they relate to women. She is known worldwide as a specialist on women in politics and has been a determined advocate for women’s leadership in Eastern Europe in particular. Hunt is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of numerous articles and books, including This Was Not Our War: Bosnian Women Reclaiming the Peace, which won the 2005 PEN/New England Award for nonfiction. Through the Hunt Alternatives Fund, which she founded with her sister Helen, she has donated more than $100 million toward youth arts organizations, various social movements and efforts to combat human trafficking. In 2007, Hunt was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.
On Monday, February 17, the Lewis Global Studies Center will host a Smith/Ewha Summer Exchange in Korea Scholarship Info Session at 4 p.m. Students are invite to attend to learn about study abroad opportunities in Korea this summer with the Smith/Ewha Summer Exchange scholarship.
Each year, Smith College selects six students to attend Ewha Womans University’s International Summer College. Qualified applicants must have a Smith grade point average of at least 3.0, a strong interest in studying Korean language and culture, and have already completed at least one year of Korean language. The exchange is not open to Korean nationals whose home is in Korea.
Tuition is waived for students selected for the exchange. International travel, room and board, optional trips, passport, visa, and other fees are the responsibility of the student. Students may apply for an International Experience Grant to offset these expenses.
Applications to the Smith/Ewha Summer Exchange are due March 3, 2014.
Smith’s Chinese Inter-Regional Student Cultural Organization and the department of East Asian Languages and Literatures celebrated the year of the horse at an event in the Campus Center on February 8.
Students sang songs and read poems to honor the Chinese New Year. The first day of the new year is traditionally marked by lighting fireworks and burning bamboo sticks and firecrackers to chase off the evil spirits. Many people also honor their elders and families by visiting the most senior family members on this day. Festivities continue for a total of fifteen days, where upon the last day families walk the streets carrying lanterns in a Lantern Festival.
Smith’s Chinese New Year celebration embraced the themes of family reunion and the start of spring with cultural performances and traditional food, including dumplings. There was a large turn out and the crowd was very engaged to each performance of their peers.
Howard J. Gold, Smith College professor of government, will speak in London this month.
On Saturday, January 18, the Smith College Club of Great Britain will host its annual winter dinner. The featured guest speaker is Howard Gold, professor of government at Smith. He will speak on “The Great Political Divide: Partisan Polarization in the United States” at an evening including drinks, dinner, and a discussion with fellow Smithies.
Professor Gold has been at Smith College since 1988. He teaches courses in American politics and statistics and is the co-author of Parties, Polarization and Democracy in the United States and author of Hollow Mandates. His work has also appeared in American Politics Quarterly, Political Research Quarterly, Polity, and the Social Science Journal. His research interests include public opinion, partisanship and voting behavior.
The event will be held at the Sloane Club in London and begins with a reception at 6:30 p.m., followed by dinner at 7:15 p.m. Tickets are available online at https://winterdinner2014.eventbrite.co.uk. Tickets are £47.50 for club members and guests, and £27.50 for students and recent graduates.
Here is another in our series of profiles of American Studies Diploma program (AMS) students. It covers the experience of two students: Rajbir Purewal and Marijn Freud.
Rajbir Purewal, AMS
Rajbir Purewal is a twenty-two year old economic student from Geneva, Switzerland who has roots in India. Rajbir is unlike most of the other AMS students as he is studying at Smith for only one semester, and despite growing up in Geneva he counts English as one of his mother tongues, along with French and Hindi.
Marijn Freud, AMS
Marijn Freud is a twenty-five year old from Amsterdam, Holland and already has a Master’s in American Studies, with her main interest being American politics. She has been to America twice before, to Chicago and St Louis (“interesting for American studies students, not for tourists”) for ten days each. She had originally planned to travel in America for three months, but instead took this opportunity to live here for a whole year.
Adapting to new surroundings has been difficult for both Rajbir and Marijn. Rajbir has been to America many times before because he has family in Stamford, Connecticut, and says he “identifies with the culture” of America. However, familiarity with the culture did not make Rajbir’s transition to Smith easy. He says his advisor in Geneva warned him that Smith was a women’s college before coming here, but made it seem as if there were a modest number of male graduate students, which turned out to be “kind of wrong.” Rajbir comes from a very close-knit family and has never lived on his own before, so being away from his family was also a considerable adjustment, especially being away from his little sister, whom he considers “the most important person” in his life. His first weeks at Smith were trying, but now he is happy here and he is especially excited to be using the Five Colleges to take classes at the Isenberg School of Management at UMASS.
The transition wasn’t quite as rough for Marijn. There were, however, some cultural differences that were very strange to her at first. She noticed that Americans had a sense of “openness” that wasn’t present in Holland. For example, Marjin says that in America it is relatively easy to begin a conversation with a stranger, but finds that it is also much harder to form a deeper connection with someone. Marijn sometimes feels odd calling people “you” because of a linguistic difference between Dutch and English. In Dutch there is a formal “you” and an informal “you,” and so sometimes she feels disrespectful calling people “you,” however she then realizes she is not being disrespectful at all.
Shifts in culture and environment weren’t the only adjustments Rajbir and Marijn had to make; both noticed that classes at Smith are conducted differently than in their home countries. Rajbir is used to 45 minute classes, so having a class that is 2 hours and 30 minutes long was at first odd for him. He says having a class where students just talk is a new experience, and he appreciates that the professors here are more willing to help their students, whereas in Geneva the professor was unlikely to know his or her students’ names.
On the other hand, Marijn says she was surprised that classes were “only one hour and twenty minutes.” In Holland she usually had classes once a week for three hours. She likes Smith’s classes better, though, because she says by the third hour of a class she became pretty drowsy. For Marijn, some things have remained the same – while she expected there to be some differences in class discussions, in reality they proved to be quite similar to those at home. She says that it seems like there is more work here, but in Holland the professors consider that students are living alone and working, which is “a whole other life next to” their studies. Both Rajbir and Marijn note that there is a lot of reading at Smith.
While their time in the AMS program is another step towards their futures, neither Rajbir nor Marijn have a clear idea of what they want to do after this year is over. Rajbir knows for certain he could never work in an office, because he likes people and wants to have an impact on the people around him. For a class in Geneva, Rajbir drafted a plan for a business that would raise money to help reduced water scarcity in India, which was met with a lot of interest by the people to whom he presented the idea. Whether or not he pursues this particular enterprise, he would like to do something similar, and if not, he thinks he will do something in marketing. Marijn says she’s using this year in America as an “extended thinking-about-what-I-want-to-be period” and she feels like she wants “to be 100 things but at the same time none of them.” She thinks right now that her ideal job would be something that combines journalism and politics. Neither have decided whether they want to come back to live in the United States. Rajbir says he may stay if he finds a job that he likes, however “the quality of life in Switzerland is undeniable” and that would make the decision to stay here difficult. Marijn says she will always go back to Holland because of her friends and family, however she thinks she will probably have to stay in America to have a job that lines up with her studies and her interests.
After experiencing life abroad for two months now, both have the same advice for students traveling abroad for the first time: “Don’t Skype too much!” Marijn says that while Skype is necessary while studying abroad, she has noticed that people who Skype too much “aren’t focused on being in the actual place and don’t make a lot of connections.” Rajbir articulated almost the same thoughts, saying that socialization is essential and that it isn’t good to “rely on talking to people who are not there.” He added that students should enjoy their experience abroad as much as they can and be open to challenges. Some of the opportunities to study abroad will be incredibly unique, and students should try not to be distracted too much by their friends and family at home. In Marijn’s words, instead of just physically being in that space, everyone should try to actually “be there.”
This interview was conducted by Global STRIDE student Emily Paruolo ’17.
Marilyn Schuster, Provost & Dean of the Faculty at Smith, will be in Jerusalem in early January, where she will join an alumnae gathering, graciously hosted by Audrey Scher ’64.
Marilyn will be joined by Smith faculty members Donna Robinson Divine (Morningstar Professor of Government and Director of Middle East Studies), Susan Van Dyne (Professor in the Program for the Study of Women & Gender and Chair of the Archives Concentration), and Justin Cammy (Associate Professor of Jewish Studies and Comparative Literature).
Smith alumnae are encouraged to join the event to talk with one another and get updates from the college. The event will be on Wednesday, January 8, 2014, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Alumnae should e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org by January 6 for more details and to RSVP.
Smith College is offering a new concentration in Translation Studies. The program will build on the historical strength of foreign language study at Smith and is expected to appeal to students who want to refine their knowledge of two or more languages and cultures (including English).
Student concentrators may not only be drawn to the literary side of translation; they may also seek to link their knowledge in the social sciences or sciences to their practice of a foreign language, translating governmental or legal documents, working with immigrant or refugee communities who need the help of a translator or interpreter, or translating scientific papers.
Requirements for the concentration include a “gateway course” titled “The Art of Translation”; one course with a focus on translation theory, translation or practice; two courses in the language/literature/culture of the foreign language; one elective in translation studies, linguistics, the foreign language or one elective that focuses on problems of language; two practical experiences; an E-Portfolio Language Passport; and a capstone project.
The Translation Studies concentration will be limited to 12 students per class year. Students are encouraged to apply for participation in the concentration in the spring of their sophomore year. The current application deadline is today, December 10.