Video by Lisette Larson
March has been designated Women’s History Month and March 8 is International Women’s Day. This day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, according to the International Women’s Day webpage.
The United Nations began celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8, 1975, according to un.org.
To kick off the year that lies ahead, the International Women’s Day campaign decided on a theme that gives a “unified direction to guide” action, according to internationalwomensday.com.
This year the theme is Press for Progress.
“We can’t be complacent,” according to the International Women’s Day webpage. “Now, more than ever, there’s a strong call-to-action to press forward and progress gender parity.”
Recognizing women is not just a single community, company or country effort. According to internationalwomensday.org, International Women’s Day belongs to all communities everywhere.
International female students at BYU-Idaho shared their thoughts on what it is like being an international female student at BYU-I and in America and how being here will help them progress in their futures.
What is it like being an international female in the United States?
“I love it,” said Diana Angulo Muro, a woman from Mexico and a junior studying music. “I feel like the circumstances which brought me here were a huge blessing. I got a scholarship from my mission president, so for me, even though I have been here for almost two years already, I walk through the streets or through the school and I still can’t believe that I am here. I think this school is really internationally friendly and they do a lot of things for people who are not from here.”
“I think it’s fun because everything is just so different,” said Camila Parada Leon, a student from Colombia and a junior studying business management. “It is always nice to try new things and to learn about other cultures. Of course, there are sometimes where I feel like I don’t belong, or sometimes I feel that I miss my culture or some things that we do or the food, but at the same time I feel special because I am representing my country here.”
What are your goals being at BYU-Idaho?
“I hope that I am able to give anyone that I come in contact with a different perspective than they had before,” said Dunique Charles, a student from Haiti and a junior studying apparel entrepreneurship. “I know a lot of people that before they were exposed to international students, they may have their biased views, stereotypical mindsets, that are formed from just what they’ve heard from the media. So I hope whoever I get in touch with, they are able to see that we are all just people, that there are certain things we do different and things that we are similar in, and that’s OK.”
“I think that one of the things that I got here which has changed my goals a lot has been the vision that they give you about making a real change in the world,” Angulo Muro said. “As a music student, part of my goal is to be able to understand how the music program works here and to bring that to Mexico. There are a lot of things that are different, like creative ideas or the education system, and those things combine really well knowing that the Spirit is part of our power for teaching.”
What do you plan to do with your degree after you graduate?
“I don’t know yet,” said Toma Lukashova, a student from Ukraine and a freshman studying computer science. “Honestly, for now, I would like to go back to my country and use this knowledge that I got here because we don’t have really good economics and with this education, we can help. I don’t know what’s going to happen with my life yet, but I would love to go home and do something there.”
“I’ve been learning about the way people think,” Parada Leon said. “To be able to spend time with other international students and students from the United States is amazing to see how they think and how they grew up. I think those things are going to help me as I build my career path, and once I go back home I’ll be able to come up with more ideas in things that I can do to help build in my society. At least to create a small impact.”
What would you say to other women who are in the same situation you are in?
“We can develop ourselves and show people that we can still do something,” Lukashova said. “We can change this world; not just men can do it. We can do it too. We have our personalities and we can express ourselves and we can do something good.”
“No matter what race or what gender you are, as long as you work hard and get good grades and working towards your goals, then that is great,” said Angie Lee, a student from South Korea and a freshman studying business management. “Don’t feel discouraged just because of your race. Just focus on your goals and keep moving forward.”
“Embrace your differences and become comfortable with yourself,” Charles said. “Don’t be offended when people are asking questions. Some people are genuinely asking because they don’t know. Hastening the work in the aspect of answering questions and trying to educate. Have fun with the journey, it’s a beautiful thing.”
“As an international woman, it is always wonderful to have the opportunity to pursue an education, especially in a different country, and sometimes it’s hard because of the culture or economic issues, but it is always worth it, Parada Leon said. “I really admire (other international women) for being here.”