AAUW to feature 2 Humphrey Fellows at annual luncheon

Jessica Buterbaugh
January 15, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Anjusha Durbarry and Susan Heidarishad, Humphrey Fellows in Penn State's College of Education, will serve as panelists for the State College chapter of American Association of University Women (AAUW) annual luncheon.

The AAUW's International Perspectives on Women in Society luncheon will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1, in the Nittany Lion Inn Alumni Fireside Lounge. The cost of the luncheon is $22 and reservations must be made by Jan. 25. Late payments will be accepted at the door but advance reservations are required.

Susan Heidarishad

Susan Heidarishad

IMAGE: Penn State

Durbarry, a native of the island nation of Mauritius, and Heidarishad, who was born and raised in Iran, will share stories about experiences of women in their home countries and address prominent issues that affect women throughout the world, including access to education and equal-opportunity employment.

"In Iran, women have no protection," Heidarishad said. "It is very difficult for women to work or get an education. In my country, men have control. Women have to fight and struggle for their rights."

Heidarishad explained that Iran is a country that has continuously been plagued by warfare, which contributes to the oppression of women. "During war, it was very dangerous for women," she said.

Because the government provides few protections for women, many crimes against women do not receive justice.

More than 3,600 miles away in Mauritius, women experience a much different culture. Located about 300 miles off the coast of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean, Mauritius is a small island that is characterized by its intercultural diversity. The island was successively colonized by the Dutch, French and British before declaring its independence in 1968.

"We are a very multicultural society," Durbarry said. "We have a mix of culture from different parts of the world because we have descendants who came from different parts of the world. Because of our diversity, eminent scholars and experts thought the country would fail and go bankrupt after its independence."

Anjusha Durbarry

Anjusha Durbarry

IMAGE: Penn State

Durbarry said the people in her country embrace others' differences and their government is very supportive of its people. "We celebrate everyone's festivals and there are public holidays to respect and display this unity. We equally celebrate Chinese festivals, Muslim festivals, Christian festivals, and Hindu festivals."

"Mauritius is very well known for the warm welcoming and hospitable nature of its people," she said. "When Mark Twain visited the island, he said God made Mauritius first and then he made heaven."

The country and its people are so supportive and welcoming that when Durbarry first came to Penn State and audited a class on higher education policy, she said she was confused when the discussion turned to the First Amendment and hate speech.

"I just sat in the back of the classroom confused," she said. "I had to Google 'hate speech' because I didn't understand what it was or what it meant. When I read more about it, I was shocked that it is an issue because we don't have such problems in my country."

For more information about the luncheon, contact Christine Bishop at cbishop@ccysb.com or 814-441-3571.

Last Updated January 23, 2019