IIE Blog Opening Minds
IIE Blog Opening Minds

International Women’s Day—Inspiring Change

By: Trish Tierney on Thursday, March 6, 2014

Change occurs after people take action, and action occurs when people are inspired. I love to be inspired. Who doesn’t? When I’m inspired, I feel an almost physical response—suddenly my day looks brighter, my life seems more exciting, my dreams more attainable, and those around me appear as potential partners with whom I want to share the thrill, build momentum, and take action. So, I ask myself “How and when am I most inspired?” If I can figure it out, I can share it with more people, and keep the inspiration buzz going and growing.

Listen

I mean this word in the truest, most open and positive sense. Some days I think that the act of listening is a dying art, but it is one well worth preserving. Really, truly listening is an amazing experience and one that opens me up to new possibilities. I would like to share a recent act of listening that inspired me.

Jill Wetzler, TechWomen Mentor from TwitterMentors give advice and guidance, but the best mentors also listen. On International Women’s Day, I applaud the 29 TechWomen Mentors who traveled to Rwanda last month to meet women and men doing extraordinary work to enhance women’s education and leadership. The delegation of women leaders from the Bay Area—women used to running meetings, delivering speeches, and pitching ideas—conducted in Rwanda the most beautiful, intentional, and collective act of listening I have witnessed in a long time. They listened to high school girls at Gashora Girls Academy talk about their dreams of becoming airline pilots, engineers, and food scientists. They listened to pitches from budding entrepreneurs in the growing tech sector of Rwanda at KLab. They listened to the team at GirlHub Rwanda as they spoke of impacting leadership and self-confidence among girls in rural communities. They listened to the incredible Rwandan alumnae of TechWomen who inspire the next generation of Rwandan girls through their own careers and outreach. The TechWomen mentors, because of their ability to listen, made life-changing connections with many Rwandans and returned home enriched and inspired to take action with their new Rwandan friends.

Contribute

Goldman Sachs Mentors meet WeTech Technovation Challenge Teams in BangaloreWe all have something to contribute, whether to a conversation, a business plan, or a network. Sometimes we have to dig deep to find it, but the act of contribution is always worth the effort, because it has impact. On February 8th, we launched WeTech activities in Bangalore, India. I’m so inspired by the 60 high school girls who stood up and joined this new network of girls dedicated to using technology for change. These girls contribute courage, passion, skills, and innovation to the design of mobile apps that will help solve community problems and link them with a global movement through Technovation Challenge. These actions will give them confidence to contribute even more in the future. These girls are inspirations, and they will in turn be inspired. Twenty-four women from Goldman Sachs and Qualcomm contribute greatly to WeTech by sharing their skills and giving time out of busy schedules to listen to the girls’ ideas, to guide them through workshops, and to serve as role models. These women are inspirations, and they will in turn be inspired.

Listen. Contribute. Act.

On International Women’s Day, I will travel to Tunisia for the “Sustainability and Networking Conference.” This will bring together our partners and representatives of the 900 women entrepreneurs in our Women’s Enterprise for Sustainability program. I can’t wait to listen, contribute, and act! I know I’ll be inspired. I hope you, too, will be inspired to listen, contribute, and act to celebrate and unite with women around the world, especially on March, 8th.

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For more than nine decades, the Institute of International Education has been at the forefront of international education. The Opening Minds blog is IIE’s take on how this field continues to change. Here the Institute’s leaders will explore international educational exchange, global student mobility, institutional partnerships, international development, and other topics and trends that are shaping higher education around the world.

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