I am Abiramy Sivalogananthan former undergraduate student of the Asian University for Women in Bangladesh However; by writing this piece of work, I would like to reflect how did an educational insiture could change a young girl`s life and ideology. The transition which I got it from the Asian University for Women (AUW) which stands for women empowerment and girls`s education. While growing up, each day I looked at myself and asked who am I, what is the purpose of my life, I asked myself who will be that ginie in my life that can change the situation of my country Sri Lanka, I prayed for that ginie to come and show me a path where I can ulitize my ability and do something for my country . I realized my family was also waiting for that ginie but for them it was me they had a bigger expectation from me. They wanted me to be the same as my name for my country and a hope for a better tomorrow. A small bloom among all the difficulties and moments that people had forgotten how to smile. As I was a hope and a bloom in the autumn of my parents’ life, they wanted me to be a blossom for the people of my community and help them to believe that the season of tears and fighting will be over.
Here I come to the point where I feel that I completely reached the place where I dreamed earlier. I saw a glimpse of getting that magic lamp when I heard of AUW, I knew deep inside me I knew my ginie would come out of that lamp soon. Yes when I look back and rethink of that fairy tale of ginie I feel proud, I feel proud that I recognized my magic lamp correctly and become a part of Asian University for Women (AUW). I took a long journey to get the place that I am now, and to be the person that I am now. I am happy that I am taking this journey because I have precious goals and want to be a change maker. I try my best to achieve them and I will one day. I know it will not be easy to continue this journey, but I have a hope that I can continue the journey with the support of AUW. Now I know all of you read this piece be thinking I know why she is telling all these stories it is because board member are sitting just right over here. How can a person love so much about her university, and gives all the credit to it. Trust me this is truth, my mother must be relieved that I grauated from the university finally. Otherwise she knew in this three months my day could have started with AUW and end with the stories of AUW during the phone conversations and during my summer visit to back home.Jokes apart to the big question how AUW has changed my life.
Back in 2009 when I first came to AUW,. I can still remember how my family was afraid about me going abroad alone, yet not showing their sad expression, they tried to encourage me and give me the confidence I needed to start this ever changing journey. Experiencing culture shock along with meeting people from 13 other countries for the first time was a big challenge, but the first warm hug I received from my foreign roommates and classmates, who I now call my best friends, really made me feel at home. Students at University also learn how to quickly adjust with AUW’s enormous diversity, and start to think critically about ideas surrounding us. The word critical thinking used to haunt me in my dreams saying Abee you can not accept everything aroung you, use your critical thinking. First, when I heard that term I use to think why all my teachers is telling your assignment is to critical think about this issue and that issue.I would tell myself being critical about your parents or your government is it enough. What is this critical thinking, I have to be so critical, being critical is it going to make me a mean person. But today I know how much of my learning is a blessing of critical thinking. Critical thinking is all about understanding something in depth and then discerning what is right from wrong, its not always about critizing.
The four years of undergraduate courses have been the best as I have learned a various set of skills which strengthened my background and my knowledge about different topics. In fact, it is the spirit of liberal arts which gave me the opportunity to learn about various things while choosing my major of Asian Studies. By taking courses on different topics ranging from, but not limited to, women’s issues, religion, industrialization and urbanization, and cultural heritage, I am able to engage in discussions on a wide range of topics and have my own individual, logical ideas about each.
I had epiphanacy and became who am I today reflecting on a project. This project was called Sri Lankan summer project which has initiated by me. “We Know No Boundaries,” a peace learning and peace building initiative in Sri Lanka, builds upon the previous activities of the second year Sri Lankan AUW students’ project, “Moving Beyond the Conflict”. The previous project indicated that Tamil youth from the northern part of Sri Lanka seek opportunities to meet local Sinhalese youth, share their culture, strengthen ties, and cooperate on community issues. Therefore, “We Know No Boundaries” addresses this need by facilitating interaction between Sinhalese and Tamil youth, in Jaffna (Northern Province) and Trincomalee (Eastern Province). It engaged approximately 100 youths and 19 AUW students in a series of creative, experiential, and participatory workshops to develop a wide spectrum of peace building capacities. This project also offered the skills on the theme of living and learning in the community as a platform for cultural exchange. The program consisted of practical and theoretical components to help the target group understand how to focus on unity, peace, and understanding as citizens of one nation. As a tamil living in srilanka I always felt we were marginialised, all Sinhalese people wants to eliminate our existence, they don’t want us, they don’t want to understand our sorrow. While working in this project I got hope, a hope to see a better srilankan, when a sinhalese dormate came to discuss better ways to improve the project I got hope, a hope that we can survive in srilanka, during the toughest time when I was shattered and about to give up and my snghalese friend came and I lean into her shoulder, I got hope again, a hope that my existence as a tamil matters to a Sinhalese.
While being a part of AUW, I also achieved many more opportunities that I would not have achieved if AUW was not there to support me. One of the best opportunities is attending The Hague symposium 2013. Over a four-week period this summer in The Hague, The Netherlands, 60 participants will undergo intensive training from 25 of the field’s premier political leaders, academic experts, practitioners, and advocates in the skills necessary to holistically restructure a post-conflict society, as well as serve justice to those responsible for human rights violations. The interesting point here is I’m the one and only undergraduate student among the rest of the participants in the symposium this time. It would not possible to get that chance without the knowledge political, human right and international relationships course which have offered at AUW. I hope to gain a broad understanding ofconcepts, controversies, and institutions inthis emerging field, as well as critically examine historical and contemporary justice interventions through direct interactions with the actual decision makers through this symposium. In addition, qualified participants may apply to earngraduate-level LLM course creditfrom the Grotius Center for International Legal Studies at the University of Leiden, one of the world’s premier graduate schools for international law.
Overall, AUW has given me four years of enormous change, yet it does not end here. It is the beginning of my journey and I will use the tools and skills that I have learned at AUW to carry out my future goals and plans of making a difference in my community. I love the concept of AUW, an all-women’s university where Asian women gather to become inspired, and to gain confidence and knowledge form each other. Undeniably I want to use this concept to inspire and enrich the lives of women through education and effect positive change. The past was an opportunity and the future is a hope, so thanks to AUW for being the source of extraordinary opportunities for me and for being the power which gave me hope and optimism for what I will do in the future.
I will prove to all those people who thought a woman can do nothing other than cooking and cleaning, that they are wrong. I feel I am dreaming, I see my bright future holding my hand and calling me with loves and hopes. Therefore, from the core of my heart I touch every sign of my future's planning at AUW, whatever it says I make it true for myself. While I found this Real me at AUW, I started thinking about flying to the highest part of my wisdom for searching of the thing that is still unknown for me, but I believe that one day this Real Wings makes me fly as high as I want.The Path to Participation Initiative from World Pulse and No Ceilings