Educating Asia's Women, One Scholarship At A Time

by Asian University for Women Support Foundation
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Educating Asia's Women, One Scholarship At A Time
Educating Asia's Women, One Scholarship At A Time
Educating Asia's Women, One Scholarship At A Time
Educating Asia's Women, One Scholarship At A Time
Educating Asia's Women, One Scholarship At A Time
Educating Asia's Women, One Scholarship At A Time
Educating Asia's Women, One Scholarship At A Time
Educating Asia's Women, One Scholarship At A Time
Educating Asia's Women, One Scholarship At A Time

A major update on campus has been the establishment of a Digital Media Hub. The Digital Media Hub provides an important space where refugee students can produce recordings and other media expressing their experience and perspective. This space features new computers for digital media production and includes a soundproof room. The computers have been installed with the Premiere Pro video editing program, allowing for advanced video editing lessons and activities; and the soundproof space allows for students and staff to edit films, record interviews, and/or make sound recordings.

Students can also learn valuable technology and storytelling skills, expanding potential professional and extra-curricular opportunities. With the equipment available, students are also able to draw upon skills they have learned in an on-campus documentary course, Documentary Filmmaking, to make their own documentaries reflecting their life experiences. During this lockdown, students have made more than 50 short documentary films over the past two semesters as part of the final project of the documentary course.

To accommodate the majority of students who are taking classes in their homes, the course syllabus has been designed in a way so that students can create films with the resources that they have in their homes such as their laptops, mobile phones, etc. The course instructor has also developed video tutorials on video editing and cinematography students can use to understand the techniques they have studied properly. The instructor has said the course is “helping our students to create a new voice, a new way for them to present their thoughts.”

During the lockdown in spring 2020, the Media Hub was open for students’ use and many students used it for their academic and personal projects while they were on campus. At this time, most students have returned home, however a few students from particularly vulnerable communities remain on campus. The Media Hub remains open for any student still on campus. When faculty are back on campus, the Performing Arts Director hopes to enlarge the video editing room to create more space for all editing panels.

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While students are not on campus this semester due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we are pleased to have a number of initiatives in place to continue the spirit of a cohesive AUW community:

  • The AUW student-led clubs are still finding creative ways to adapt to an online medium to keep their peers involved;
  • Pathways plans to begin class-to-class peer learning projects whereby we connect students via informal writing projects. By sharing written letters, stories, and anecdotes with each other, we aim to let students practice using English outside their regular classroom activities and also create the feeling of being member of a larger community of learners;
  • Similarly, we have begun the process of developing a partnership with an external organization, Global Nomads, with the goal of connecting Pathways students with adolescent learners from around the world. Global Nomads' mission statement is: "to envision a new generation of global citizens who are empathetic, aware and taking action to solve some of the world’s most pressing issues" by leveraging technology "to foster authentic, global youth – driven dialogue."

As always, one of the hallmarks of the Pathways for Promise program is our commitment to encouraging person-to-person mutual understanding through international, cross-cultural peer-learning.

Service Learning

Pathways is currently developing its capacity and expertise to deliver on service learning in an online context. Pathways Instructors have completed a 3-month course of Webinars on service learning in an online environment. 

Our plans for service learning this academic year include:  

a)      Pathways Students interacting with other students from a range of cultural backgrounds and discussing topics such as COVID -19 (e.g. steps to protect communities), maintaining wellbeing in an online environment, and protecting the marine environment. This global interaction will be facilitated by 'Global Nomads'.

b)      We aim to hold at least 2 online forums over the next 8 months, led by our students, with our network of local Universities and NGOs. Students will share the lessons they’ve learned through the Global Nomads initiative as well as explore and discuss the challenges of building online communities.

c)      Students will work with partner organizations in Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Bangladesh to organize community initiatives which promote 'mental well-being'. 

Ultimately, since Pathways is a bridge program with the inherent goal of instilling confidence in our students, our foremost goal is to make our students feel comfortable. The experience of teaching and learning online is relatively new for all of us, and we're all navigating what "the new normal" of education means together. We encourage consistent student feedback and are working to create the best educational experience possible.

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Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, the Asian University for Women (AUW) Virtual Mentorship Program has experienced tremendous success over the past few months. The AUW Mentorship Program provides upper class students and alumnae with the valuable opportunity to connect virtually with an industry leader who can help them reach their professional and personal goals.

AUW is often the first place where students have the freedom to study and think about what they hope to accomplish beyond what they’ve seen in their communities. Fariah* is one of many AUW students who have signed up for the mentorship program. Like many AUW students, Fariah has many interests as AUW’s liberal arts education encourages students to pursue their passions and gain diverse experiences. But as she was approaching her final year at AUW, Fariah felt uncertain about not having a plan. Though Fariah describes herself as an optimistic person, she knew she wanted to come up with solid plan to help her realize what was in and out of her control. She also knew she had limited exposure to working outside of school, and wanted guidance from someone with experience who could advise her on how to focus her energy and efforts.

Fariah started her mentorship journey in a group mentorship session, where she learned the importance of setting short term goals as well as different styles of leadership. In a private session with her individual mentor, Fariah shared her personal aspirations and struggles. It was her dream to become a UN ambassador someday, but she had no idea where to begin. It was her mentor who reassured her she could achieve her dream, and told her to take a step back and break down her dream into smaller goals. Fariah’s mentor advised her to look for internships and job opportunities, and secure some degree of financial stability before applying to graduate school.

As many AUW students are the first in their families to attend university, the AUW Mentorship Program is a valuable resource for students who may not have had access to professional role models in their own communities. Since its inception, the program has matched 137 students to individual professional mentors from organizations such as Bloomberg, Goldman Sachs, Google, UNICEF USA, and more. Most recently, the mentorship program has expanded to include AUW alumnae, who can now sign up as mentees.

*Fariah is an alias.

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AUW Strong Webinar Series
AUW Strong Webinar Series

To respond to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Asian University for Women (AUW) entered a precautionary response period on 11 March 2020. Over this period, the campus closed to all but vital workers. Online provision of teaching was swiftly implemented and administrative support was enhanced to ensure the health and safety of our residential students and frontline staff. We have seen new community spirit emerging amidst the confusion as students, faculty, and support staff adjust to living in a rapidly evolving context. Currently, more than 100 students have made the informed decision to remain on campus, while all others have been supported in returning to their home countries.

To bring together our international community, AUW has been hosting a series of virtual panels in its 'AUW Strong' series, featuring the particular experiences of our diverse community in the wake of COVID-19. The first in this webinar series was moderated by AUW Chancellor Cherie Blair and was joined by both current students from the Rohingya community as well as AUW alumnae who are working with UN agencies and others at the forefront of the Rohingya refugee crisis in Bangladesh.

The second webinar in the AUW Strong series featured Dr. Maryam Qudrat, AUW Trustee and Lecturer at California State University Long Beach, in conversation with AUW alumnae from Afghanistan. This panel brought color to the ways that individuals in conflict-affected countries, like Afghanistan, address and adapt to the threats of COVID-19. AUW alumnae shared their perspectives, work experiences, and hopes for the future. 

In the third panel, stakeholders from across the apparel industry came together to discuss how the boom in the readymade garments industry brought jobs and opportunities to millions of women in Bangladesh, including the ability to enroll in Asian University for Women's Pathways for Promise program for entry into undergraduate education. Our panelists shed light on how the global pandemic has disrupted the industry in Bangladesh and discussed how – and in what new form – the industry might emerge in its aftermath. 

AUW will continue to host webinars in the coming month. We hope you will tune in!

We are grateful to members of the international AUW community for their support during the COVID-19 emergency. Though the world is in peril, we are stronger together.


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Students take part in a dance class
Students take part in a dance class

At the Asian University for Women, students who start through the Pathways for Promise program receive an enriching educational experience that allows students from particularly underserved communities to prepare for entrance into higher education. To best equip students for their upcoming undergraduate studies, they take extensive English language courses in addition to reviewing basic mathematics and computer skills before entering into a second year of preparatory academic work.


Physical education courses have also become a critical feature of the Pathways program and overall AUW curriculum. Through classes in martial arts and classical dance, and extracurricular athletic activities, students discover new talents and improve physical wellbeing, while also gaining confidence and feelings of personal success.


Pathways for Promise students take courses in Karate, where they learn physical and mental discipline as well as self-defense skills. After Pathways, students can join the Karate team, which competes under the leadership of the first woman blackbelt in Chittagong. Just this past summer, several students competed in an international Karate competition in Kolkata, India where they brought home a number of medals.


Recently, classical dance classes have also been introduced as part of the curriculum. Taught in the Indian tradition, these courses include five courses on Kathak Dance and two courses on Bharatnatyam Dance. To expand the options for the students, a number of skilled dance instructors have begun teaching these courses. These dance courses are mandatory for all Pathways for Promise students and are a cornerstone of this diverse group of students’ education at AUW, and serve as outlets of expression and connection. The courses challenge students to develop as dancers, to support their classmates in developing their talents, and to use dance as a medium by which to communicate issues of importance to them individually and collectively. Although many students have little background in dance, they actively participate and are making progress. AUW is excited to continue to offer these classes, as well as additional advanced classes, into the current Spring Semester.

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Organization Information

Asian University for Women Support Foundation

Location: Cambridge, MA - USA
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @AUW_Chittagong
Project Leader:
Nirmala Rao
Cambridge, MA United States
$21,549 raised of $40,000 goal
137 donations
$18,451 to go
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