Tanatswa Musunda talks about the book “Pussy: A Reclamation” to the ladies on International Women’s Day at the International Village on March 8. The women heard from Dr. Cugini, an OB/GYN who answered questions about femininity and health.
Photo by Olivia Tock
March is Women’s History Month, a time to encourage women and educate others about the important strides women have made throughout “her” history in our world. But often some women and subjects are not given the same safe space as others.
On a college campus like SEMO, organizations hold events to celebrate International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month. The voices of many international female students are often dominated by national conversations. That’s why Associate Director of International Student Services, Brooke DeArman, has created a safe and open platform for her diverse students to express their own experiences with womanhood.
“They bring a very different perspective on a lot of different topics,” DeArman said. “They have different backgrounds, different histories, different cultures and everything. So when it comes to a college campus, whatever they can bring, especially to our students who haven’t had that exposure – maybe they’re from small towns – that’s great for them to come out and be heard.
DeArman, who is from Kennett, Mo., had no experience with international students until she attended SEMO. After making international friends in the music department, she said she realized how “simple-minded” she was.
Both domestic students and international students benefit from sharing views. Many countries represented in the SEMO International Village impose restrictions on certain information, even important health information, such as in Saudi Arabia or China. In some of their home countries, international women on campus do not have the same access to information as an American student, so coming to the United States can be a shock; many women have been unable or do not know how to get the help they need.
“The inability to [have access to] information that they don’t have, especially on the internet, so many countries…they just can’t Google a certain term,” DeArman said. “If they needed to google a breast self-examination, they can’t because ‘breast’ is restricted and they can’t search for it.”
Despite freedom of information in the United States, female domestic students may know a lot about health-related topics, but may not have the courage to speak up or seek help for their needs. Women’s health is still taboo to some extent, even in America. Menstruation, family planning, reproductive health, genitalia, and sex are usually discussed privately and without the help of medical professionals.
DeArman said she had her own womanly issues as a student, but “didn’t have the guts” to find out more.
“If I had discovered certain things about myself when I was in college, my quality of life would be much better today,” DeArman said. “So that’s why I got to the point where I’m like, people need to learn these things early on. They need to feel empowered and confident to go to a doctor and ask these questions. … They are not weird.
Due to her own experiences of lack of information and confidence in her own femininity, DeArman champions this particular group of students. She said it was important for her to make sure they had this awareness early on and didn’t wait until they were 35 to deal with their women’s health issues, such as breast cancer. breast or gynecological problems.
To help with this, DeArman hosted a private event at International Village on March 8 for international students to ask anonymous questions, have a thought-provoking discussion, and learn about women’s health from OB/GYN, the Dr. Heather Cugini, who served as DeArman’s doctor. for the last decade. DeArman said Dr. Cugini was the perfect speaker for this demographic and the students were super engaged during the nearly two-hour presentation.
Finance and entrepreneurship student Tanatswa Musunda is from Zimbabwe. Musunda said she was a ‘girl’s girl’ – she grew up in a house full of girls and went to an all-girls school – and it’s important to have a community of women she can share her beliefs with . She shared her own perception of femininity and why creating platforms to express these experiences is important.
“Being an international student, being in a room where I’m listening to someone from India explain how he was taught sex education, and I’m listening to someone from Kentucky, America, describe how his mother did things,” Musunda said. . “I want to understand other women better because, how can I empower someone I don’t know? I need to know my sister next to me so that I can empower her.
Sibonginkosi Mathe, a business economics and healthcare administration student, is also from Zimbabwe, and Mathe said she wanted to be in a space where she could be surrounded by women who want to be empowered like she does. . Mathe values education, especially when it comes to women’s health, and wants everyone to join the conversation.
“I felt like I needed to be informed about my body, and to take charge of it, in order to educate even my future partner or my children, or even my friends and family, wherever they come from. from a culture like mine where sex is not openly talked about. That was the first step to take in my life,” Mathe said. “And as someone who is going to take over the administration of healthcare, I wanted to feel like I’m going to those spaces where I can meet like-minded people, so I can be educated, as well as ask questions about the career field I’m about to go to. ‘enter.
Musunda, Mathe and others said they thought it would be beneficial to invite male and female domestic students to conversations like these. Everyone is affected by women’s health in one way or another. What better way to celebrate Women’s History Month?