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Kansas State Collegian

Kansas State Collegian

The independent student news publication at Kansas State University

Kansas State Collegian

International Women’s Day celebration: ‘We should understand others and value our differences’

The American Association of University Women is hosting the celebration at 6 p.m. Friday, March 8 in the Holiday Inn at the Campus

International Women’s Day is an annual, global celebration on March 8 highlighting women’s social, economic, cultural and political achievements. It celebrates the strides made toward gender equality and calls for action to fight inequality that still exists.

This year’s International Women’s Day theme is “Inspire Inclusion,” and the American Association of University Women inspires inclusion in Manhattan through their ninth annual International Women’s Day celebration on Friday.

The celebration will feature the following four international panelists:

  • Agnieszka Lasko, graduate student in piano pedagogy and a native of Poland.
  • Ana Lúcia Mendonça-Zarling, executive director of the Manhattan Area Resettlement Team, K-State alumna and native of Brazil.
  • Claudia Petrescu, dean of the graduate school, vice provost for graduate education and originally from Romania.
  • Vajiheh Shahsavari, master’s student in curriculum and instruction, president of K-State’s Iranian Graduate Students Association and from Iran.

The celebration’s goal is to deconstruct biases by spreading awareness, discussion and education about the international population in Manhattan. Usha Reddi, President of Manhattan’s AAUW branch and state senator, will moderate the panel, asking questions about challenges in coming to the U.S., biases and inequality because of gender, cultural traditions, suggestions on inspiring inclusion and more.

“International Women’s Day is a very huge celebration in my country of origin, Romania,” Petrescu said. “So for me to be invited to speak on a panel with other international women, I found it to be an honor, as well as an opportunity to share about the experiences of international women.”

Petrescu said if nothing else, students should leave the event with a better understanding of people different from them.

“We should understand others and value our differences and engage in a conversation about those differences,” Petrescu said. “Be curious to learn about other countries, other cultures, other norms and enrich yourself to curiosity, because I think every person brings value to society. We just have to be curious to find the value that they bring, and if it’s a bit different than what I perceive as my value then I think it just enriches all of us.”

Petrescu said reaching equality starts with people becoming more aware of their prejudices and beginning the work to fix them.

“I would like to see women really be treated as equals to men, but also equals among women,” Petrescu said. “We still have our own ingrained biases, subconscious biases. We need to start having more conversations about [our biases], and valuing people for who they are, not for who we perceive they are.”

Sage Lewis, sophomore in animal science and industry, said that conversations about diversity and representation are important to inspire inclusivity.

“It gives you an outside perspective, and you can learn things that you didn’t even know that you didn’t know,” Lewis said.

Lewis said when people don’t have engaging conversations, or proper representation as women, there’s more pressure to be perfect.

“I think there’s this big responsibility that we all have to kind of make each other look good,” Lewis said. “There’s a lot more women in higher positions, but then the women in those positions kind of have this responsibility to everybody else to do a good job to represent the rest of us … and if they mess up, then it looks bad for all of us.”

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About the Contributor
Kaitlynn Faber, arts & culture editor
A&C editor for spring 2024. Previously asst. A&C editor for fall 2023 and writer for 2022-23.
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