April 30, 2020

BLOG: IDEAA - What a spring semester

In my fall blog post, I shared that I was given the task of planning an International Women’s Day event at Georgetown in support of the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity & Affirmative Action (IDEAA). This event was supposed to bring together students, faculty, and staff, by bringing awareness to women’s discrimination and celebrating different cultures. 

A call for students to take the university's first ever cultural climate survey, administered by the IDEAA.
A call for students to take the university's first ever cultural climate survey, administered by the IDEAA.

However, International Women’s Day was on March 8th, which unfortunately happened to be during spring break. After consulting with my supervisor Rosemary Kilkenny, we decided to postpone the event until after the break to allow everyone the opportunity to participate in the celebration and empowerment of women.

International Women's Day presents an opportunity to celebrate the progress and achievements of women throughout history and throughout the world. This day allows for the assembly of like-minded individuals to advocate for gender parity and women's rights. Women from different backgrounds and cultures are recognized for gaining full and equal participation in global development. At Georgetown, International Women’s Day is one of many important days around which the IDEAA fosters awareness of. 

For this event, I envisioned a “Women’s Cultural Fashion Show’’ that displays a variety of fashions, each representative of a different religious or cultural background. For me, the purpose of this event was to promote diversity amongst students and showcase the traditional clothing worn by different cultures. My female classmates from my Global Hospitality Leadership program (GHL) come from different walks of life. They were willing to walk in my Cultural Fashion Show and talk to the audience about how their culture or religion affected their careers. For example, my classmate, Pitchya, is a manager at her family’s Thai restaurant in Washington DC. She shared with me the time she met Richard Spencer, the leader of the KKK. He had ordered food from her restaurant via phone; she stated that when he walked through the doors she immediately recognized him and felt scared. In the hospitality industry, we are trained to treat every customer equally. She expressed to me that he looked at her with disgust, intimidation, and inferiority. She was so overwhelmed that her dad, the owner of the restaurant, had to complete the order. 

In addition, I was fortunate enough to receive an invitation from Rosemary Kilkenny, the vice president of diversity, equity, and inclusion at Georgetown, to attend the United Nations Observance of International Women’s Day on March 6th. This was a free event showcasing speakers such as Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, Sanna Marin, Prime Minister of Finland, Dr. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcukathe, the executive director for UN Women, and many more exceptional world leaders.

The event was titled, “I am Generation Equality: Realizing Woman’s Rights,” and it celebrated the next generation of female leaders. This event took place in New York at the United Nations headquarters in the general assembly hall. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend this event. Because of the developing COVID-19 pandemic, the event was limited to existing UN grounds pass-holders. The planned public ticket distribution was no longer taking place. 

Not only was I unable to attend the event in New York, but all events at Georgetown were subsequently canceled, including my Cultural Fashion Show as the university transitioned to virtual instruction. I will be assigned a new task to complete, where the safety of others won’t be in jeopardy and the fight for justice will continue.

This post was prepared by Cherrish Wilson (G'21)  as part of the Hoyasforshe student fellowship.