top of page


Some of my favorite moments at AUW took place in the Lane, a gathering spot between the two building of the temporary campus.  It was here that I formed connections with women from the other side of the world. I listened, riveted, as they shared their stories with poise, and eloquence. I was awed by their openness about such trauma and violence. As they spoke, I wondered what feelings they were biting back to get through the retelling. They asked me to share their stories.
(Video interviews coming soon)


I spoke at length with a woman who survived three bombings in three different classrooms. She came out physically unscathed from the first two, though the mental and emotional toll was evident. Her closest friends died in front of her eyes. When she thought she was bleeding, she soon discovered she was spattered in her friend’s blood. An avid reader, she did not pick up a book for many months after the first explosion. She spoke with classmates who reminded her that she was okay. She was not injured, so why has she not yet returned to school? There was no talk of mental health and healing from trauma. The third explosion hit her, and she was unable to walk for almost a year. She endured surgery after surgery and her body gradually healed. After each explosion, she picked herself up and went back to school.


A group of women from Balochistan, Pakistan told me about family members being taken; they were a perceived threat because they were educated people. The Baloch are marginalized people in Pakistan and are repeatedly taken, tortured, or killed by the Pakistani army. One student’s brother and uncle were taken and never came back. Her other brother was returned after a lengthy stay in a cell, where he was tortured, beaten, and starved. He came home to his family, but he was never the same man that they knew before he was taken. A week before I arrived on campus, her fiancé disappeared without a trace.


A small group of students took me shopping in Chittagong. We took a terrifying ride crammed into a  three-wheeled open-sided taxi, weaving through traffic with little regard for other vehicles, pedestrians, or the occasional chicken wandering into the road. We walked through the crowded streets, past street vendors, beggars, and pile after pile of garbage. As I picked out a silk scarf to bring home to my daughter, my friend started yelling in Bengali at a man in the cramped shop. He had grabbed her inappropriately, with a smile on his face. His response to her words made it clear that he felt wholly entitled to touch her in any way he wanted.

  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Instagram
bottom of page