"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."
A Formal Announcement
I have failed.
Well, what is “failure,” anyway? In the conventional sense, I tried to go from Point A to Point B and somehow ended up way at Point Z. In the literal sense, I tried to leverage the connections of sport for a development NGO to design curriculum-based development projects in a rural town in South Africa, yet now suddenly find myself scrapping together last-minute positions for my team at international volunteer programs in the Western Cape.
My “venture” (was it ever really a venture to begin with?) has officially imploded, exploded, been obliterated, etc. In retrospect, it was nearly predictable, though I would have never dreamed it could actually happen. In any sense, it was completely out of my control, and the specific reasons that the Mighty City Ambassador Program is breathing its first and final breaths at the same time is neither here nor there.
My point is that I have a message to deliver, a beacon of hope for anyone who is struggling with their venture or summer project, because I am a prophet from land of the mythical, legendary Starr fellows whose ventures have Failed:
I am here to say that I am still alive even if my venture is not, and while I would not like to disclose how many anxiety attacks I’ve had this week, I am beginning to become extremely grateful for this disastrous situation.
Because I do not believe this is failure—this is a chance to rewrite my narrative. I came here for one thing, and it didn’t work. Did I expect to be reaching out to every possible connection I have in South Africa looking for anything from a couch to sleep on to a volunteer program looking for four international students last minute? No. But, I am amazed by the support and generosity from affiliates of Brown, Swearer, and Starr around the world, and I am extremely confident that my brilliant team will push through and leave this country next month having gained an exceptional amount of knowledge and experience.
This week has been the complete and utter destruction of the work I put my heart and soul into for the last year, but I am pushing myself to keep asking: what can I learn from this? So rarely does one receive the chance to completely start over from scratch. This is not my future anymore—it never really was—and I encourage everyone in this community to push past failures, big or small, and take it as an opportunity to rewrite your narrative, because sometimes these unexpected changes can reveal a new, brighter path.
** For more updates from Natasha throughout the summer, visit her blog at http://natashablackadar.wordpress.com/.
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