It started at a Global Coffee Hour in February.
I was facilitating a small group discussion with five or six international students on avoiding or overcoming conflict in group work, a situation each and every one of them had already found themselves in as students at DePaul. We went around the circle and shared our personal experience with group work, commenting on whether we felt positively or negatively toward the concept. I wasn’t shocked by anyone’s responses until a young woman mentioned that she hadn’t been able to contribute to her first group project because the other people in the group didn’t let her. When I asked whether she had said or done anything in response, she shrugged her shoulders. “I was a woman and they were men who believed I wasn’t capable of helping. I didn’t know what to do.”
My heart broke.
This woman had undergone an intense journey to be at DePaul. She’d come here intending to learn, grow, and explore her identity. How is she supposed to move forward with confidence when the first group project she was ever assigned barred her from contributing?
The most striking moment in this conversation came as a response—as this woman was talking about her experience, several other women at the table nodded in agreement and solidarity. This was a trend.
I immediately began researching groups and events for DePaul’s international women and came up with nothing. This was surprising to me, and I knew something needed to be done. There needed to be a time and space for global women to come together and talk about cultural expectations and identity, to connect and learn from one another, to know they are not alone.
Thus, the formation of the DePaul Global Women’s Collaborative
With the support of the CMWR team and UCWbL directors, we now have a group that welcomes DePaul’s global women to come together and collaboratively explore identity and support one another. For our first event, we’ll be facilitating a tried and true CMWR activity—identity boxes. We’ll examine how others see and view us, how they approach us, and how they value us. Then we’ll look at how we view ourselves and our own values and how our inward identity might differ from our outward identity.
And while we think it’s extremely important for all people—and, therefore, all genders—to come together to have this discussion, we think it is equally as important to offer a welcoming space for women of all cultures to gather and unite.
No matter who we are or where we call home, it is important to remember that each and every one of us has value. Collaboration is a part of life, and in order to successfully collaborate, we must listen and understand one another. By recognizing our differences and embracing them, we grow stronger together.
The first meeting for DePaul Global Women’s Collaborative (DGWC) will be Friday April 21 in Lewis 1411 from 2:30-4pm. Snacks provided!