"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."
Saying Yes To Myself
Growing up in the northern California valley, I must say that I was pretty well off. Yet when I was offered a ticket to live thousands of miles away for the next four years, to see what lay beyond the first hill, I took it. I said yes.
Since then, I have continued to be approached by people offering to take me just past the next hill. I keep on saying yes. I said yes to an invitation; I am now the effective international director of iTeach and last week met with department directors of two Panamanian universities as well as one Saudi Arabian university to finalize pilot partnerships with iTeach. I was asked to speak to several university classes about my experience in Panamá, as well as the organization. I said yes, and will be speaking to two classes later this week.
By saying yes, I have travelled far from the valley of northern California.
By saying yes, I have pushed myself beyond what I thought possible and have made bounds in self-esteem and confidence.
By saying yes, I have seen and been amazed by what these hands are capable of.
After some reflection recently, I was struck by a profound, ground-breaking, and personally revolutionary idea: If this is how far I have come by saying yes to others, how far can I go by saying yes to myself?
Thus far, I have limited my scope of possibility to what I am told is possible by others. Well, what if I define my own scope of possibility? What if I define my own reality? What if I recognize my own dreams not only as possible, but as a compass to guide me? To what heights can my own dreams take me?
Last semester I attended the Clinton Global Initiative University conference in St. Louis where I was struck by the words of Women for Women International founder, Zainab Salbi who told us that, “The world we live in is a product of our imagination, so might as well create the life that you imagine.”
I am going to take a moment to announce my dream: starting next summer of 2014, I will begin a bike ride for one year in southern South America and will make my way up the continent. Along the way, I will document suitable iTeach partners, and host training workshops for online resources (e.g. Khan) at schools and community centers as means of socially engaging the communities I come across. Essentially my dream is to act as a Johnny Appleseed of education, sowing the seeds of self-directed educational growth everywhere I go. This dream is an experiment to push myself to my physical and mental limits by completing the trip on bike. This dream is of climbing the mountain no one has invited me to, creating the life I imagine, of being bold, of taking risks, of recognizing the fleeting transience of life, of taking one look off the edge and plunging into the unknown.
Even more, this dream is an experiment to see exactly what one person can do, to push the limits of the possibility of impact that one year of one life can make.
Take a look at my housemates in San Miguel, Panamá, to see where this dream was born and nurtured.
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