University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, U.S.A |
Campus, community and international leaders passed on leadership lessons at an intimate meeting hosted by the Global Peace Women (GPW), Filipino American Student Association (FASA), and Pi Nu Iota (PNI) sorority on May 15. The forum, “Global Women Leadership: Connecting Filipinas in Seattle and the Philippines,” at the Samuel E. Kelly Ethnic Cultural Center at the University of Washington, connected women on a range of issues including child literacy, cultural legacy, international development and women’s empowerment.
In her welcoming remarks, Dr. Soon Ok Kang, Secretary General of Global Peace Women, explained that a key focus of Global Peace Women is to promote “women’s leadership in positive social transformation.” To this end, she encouraged participants to seek out empowering cross-community and international connections.
Four young women leaders from the University of Washington reflected on their experience as campus and community leaders. Germaine Aleena Ancheta, President of the Filipino American Student Association and a graduating senior told the audience, “It is important as a leader not to tell people what to do, but to give people the tools to be a successful leader.”
FASA organizes two major events during the year to promote and appreciate Filipino culture; Filipino Day connects local Filipino high school students with University of Washington mentors and Filipino Night engages the larger community through a cultural showcase.
Claudette Sambat, Cultural Chair of FASA, keyed in on her experience organizing Filipino Night. The program promotes cultural awareness and fosters generational solidarity, and this year attracted over 500 attendees. Claudette reflected, “Hard work for the right purposes is very fulfilling.”
Erica Kate Agbayani, a sister of Pi Nu Iota, talked about childhood literacy, an issue her sorority has addressed in their social outreach. Through reading programs and events, PNI has pursued their motto, “strengthen the youth, one page at a time.” Ms. Agbayani gave several examples of books that have connected childrento their past and opened windows to the future.
Chrissy Bleu, graduating senior from the University of Washington and intern for Global Peace Women, described the ups and downs of leadership. “Leadership can take so many forms,” she said. The most enduring lesson, she reflected, was “the spirit of service.” She encouraged students to extend their service beyond the campus into their communities and world. “I think the most satisfying part about being a leader is giving back to your community, and inspiring others to give back to their community,” she said.
Students were given real opportunities to connect to projects based in the Philippines and Seattle. Mr. Jinsoo Kim, Asia Pacific Regional President of Global Peace Foundation, introduced the All-Lights Village, a project that works with indigenous and local leaders to create community-based development starting with providing solar powered lamps. “We want to create something together,” he said.
A Korean living in America, Mr. Kim said he has been able to express his gratitude to Filipinos for their sacrifice during the Korean War through the project. He hopes to strengthen ties between the Filipino-American, Filipino and Korean communities.
Sheila Burrus, Executive Director of the Filipino Community Center of Seattle, talked about the center’s impressive 80-year history. The center was founded in 1935 by University of Washington students, a living example of campus leadership planting long-lasting community change. She told the audience, “It’s nice to have all of you come back to the community and want to serve.”
The event naturally drew together women from diverse experiences—young professionals, students and community advocates—to form positive and empowering networks. Kristie Maramot, an attendee, said the event was “enlightening” and she was inspired by “so many partners in one room promoting women’s leadership.”
Global Peace Women is the women’s division of the Global Peace Foundation. GPW advances the vision of establishing One Family under God through women-led initiatives by promoting the extended family model and creating an environment for peace to begin in the home.