Visiting professor spotlights women categorization

Sisam Shrestha

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Prakriti Paudel, a freshman accounting major, never heard of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, but said she was happy to learn about her history.

Paudel first heard of Sirleaf while attending “Crafting Belonging to Nation and World: Women’s Rhetorical Practices in Post-Conflict Liberia” by Belinda Stillion Southard as a part of the Communication Program’s Travelling Scholars Series Tuesday.

Southard a visiting communications professor from the University of Georgia, focused her program on post-civil war Liberia and local situations affecting a woman’s life there.

Paudel found Sirleaf to be an inspiration.

“Despite…the male dominant society, threats and an abusive relationship, she managed to get a Harvard degree and build up a career for herself,” said Paudel. “ She dared to change her country, to change it for the Liberian women, and I really admire her courage.”

According to Southard, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, current president of Liberia, created a sense of belonging for Liberian women by attaching new policies to non-governmental organizations which allowed them to contribute to the nation, region and the world, thus creating cosmopolitan citizens.

Southard also talked about the pros and cons of different categories of citizenship like global citizens, cosmopolitan citizens, cultural citizens and so on to help understand the concept of identity and its importance.

For Sierra Shipman, a senior communications major, Southard struck a cord of division.

“I’m not sure if anyone fits under one category unless they like to pretend that they do. We all belong in some way and I feel like we all don’t belong in some way,” said Shipman. “I think it’s a unique way to look at citizenship. I think far too common we like to think of citizenship as simply ‘I live here,’ When really it can be a lot more than that.”

Shipman, who identifies as a feminist, said equality is important to her and she is glad to find out about strong women working to better the lives of other women.

Specifically, Shipman found Sirleaf to be a great example of how feminism can help a nation.

“I think the part that stood out the most to me was that Sirleaf took a group of women that was often looked down upon and she helped people see the truth of these women,” Shipman said.

Traveling Scholars allows students to get different perspectives.