"My name is Gwendolene Mugodi and I am a writer and the founder of Paivapo Storytellers, a movement that aims to provide better access to local, good quality literature to the children in Zimbabwe--and eventually beyond. Our work would not be complete without the help of local artists like Abel Zvorufura who I met through the National Gallery of Zimbabwe. As two different artists we spent about a month and a half going back and forth on this book until we got to a place we were both happy with. I look forward to sharing that full book in a few months, but for now here's a little bit about Abel and why he does what he does."
Building Community Alone
For the past two weeks, I had been trying to build a community alone. My first project for iTeach is relatively straightforward: answering a question that, on its face, seems to be simple enough. What does iTeach stands for? In actuality, I find that it is much harder to pinpoint what iTeach is than what iTeach does. What iTeach does is easy: it innovates. iTeach transcends traditional boundaries in education by pairing up college students with non-native English learners from abroad to have English conversation via Skype. What iTeach is, however, I have no immediate answer to…
Ta-da, Ta-da. My mom is calling me from Thailand. It has been months since we had a proper communication, and I am glad to finally get to hear her voice—even if it is via the computer. Her first words to me, however, are of shock and dismay. Why didn’t you tell me you’re alone in Connecticut! Apparently, I had told her that I was planning to be in Hartford, Connecticut but not that I was already here. After the initial shock about the location subsides, we start talking about home. She describes to me how our dogs are already destroying my dad’s newly built garden. I describe to her the parks near my apartment…
Ta-da, Ta-da. A Cambodian girl with a reindeer hat is calling me from Providence. The reindeer girl has just graduated from high school where I coached her policy debate last year. Can a teacher be a friend? The reindeer girl asks me after the initial pleasantries (how are you? How’s the rest of the debate crew?). I answer her a quick ‘sure’ prompting her reply: I wish I knew that earlier. I would have invited you as a friend to our school banquet. We debaters miss you here. It is heartwarming to know that the debaters still care for me. I stopped coaching them my Sophomore year when I secluded back to my own projects…
Fast forward a week and I am now stressed out about life. I realize that despite my independence I am still as clues as ever about my life-goals. Sometimes I dream of being an activist. Sometimes a lawyer. A professor. A social entrepreneur. A prisoner. I needed direction and I needed someone to talk to—someone who has gone through my life as an idealistic undergraduate at a liberal arts institution. I emailed that someone: the first ever TA I had at Brown. “Can I ask you for some life advice via email?” Yes, of course…I can Skype you in response? I never requested it, but I can already hear the sound of the call. Ta-da, Ta-da.
In fact, you can’t build a community alone. For the past two weeks, others have helped me build a community.
August 11, 2016
June 13, 2016
Lauren Maunus '19 is starting a bold new venture.
Its goal: To help eliminate food waste and bring healthy, affordable food to "food swamps" in Rhode Island and beyond.
March 15, 2016"If little girls like me were saying Barbie is the pretty one and the brown one is the ugly one, that's a problem."
Yelitsa Jean-Charles studies Illustration at RISD with a a concentration in Gender, Race & Sexuality. She identifies as a visual activist, and believes that artists have a responsibility as society’s image-makers. Her doll company and book series, Healthy Roots, combats internalized racism and colorism by getting to the root of the problem: altering beauty standards and cultviating self-love for young girls through education, diversity, and positive representation.
March 12, 2016An Excerpt
Mina is a Brown-RISD Social Innovation Fellow. She traveled to her home in Iran last summer and brought back a cultural souvenir: the book she wrote, Taste of Culture. She explores Iranian families, streets, stores and the stories and spirit embedded in the recipes of Iranian food. She hopes to start a conversation about the benefit of knowing cuisines of different cultures to connect societies.
This year's class of Brown-RISD Social Innovation Fellows have just begun their yearlong foray into the world of social entrepenuership. Check out their projects here.
December 16, 2015
Ria is a 2015 Social Innovation Fellow and co-founder of No Country for Women (NCFW), an internationally-recognized gender education initiative that aims to combat systemic gender-based discrimination in India. Ria and her co-founder, Shreena Thakore ’16, who grew up in India, were awarded the Projects for Peace fellowship and used this grant to launch the project in May of 2014. NCFW was set up to educate the people in India on gender, rape culture, and misogyny through a series of workshops and initiate informed discussions about social change.
I was inspired by Ria’s story because she was determined to start a conversation about an issue in a country that fights hard to keep such issues silent and hidden. We reflected on Ria’s experiences, her interactions with young people, most of whom had never thought about this obvious form of discrimination before, and her moments of self-doubt and extreme conviction.
October 2, 2015