Celebrating International Women’s Day: Voices of Resilience and Empowerment 

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By Ore Ofe Oluwajobi 

In a celebration of resilience, empowerment, and cultural exchange, Global Cleveland recently organized an International Women’s Day event that brought together a diverse panel of accomplished women with the scholars of The Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel Academy in attendance; this event provided a platform for reflection, discussion, and solidarity among attendees, including honors students eager to engage with the experiences and perspectives of migrant women navigating life in the United States. 

The panelists, hailing from Ethiopia, Nigeria, Ghana, and the USA, shared candid insights into their journeys, highlighting the challenges and triumphs they have encountered while navigating American society as migrants. Among the panelists were Selamawit Abreha from Ethiopia, Temitope Adeniyi from Nigeria, Lauretta Amanor from Ghana, and Crystal Bryant, representing the USA. 

Temitope Adeniyi shared her unique struggles as an international student and a black female in a male-dominated field. “As an international student and a black female in a male-dominated field, there’s a constant pressure to prove myself. Every day, I strive to demonstrate my competence in the face of adversity”. Temitope also touched upon the challenge of preserving her cultural identity, including the difficulty of finding African meals and her American counterparts’ mispronunciation of her name. 

Similarly, Lauretta Amanor shared her experiences of cultural adaptation, “I’ve turned negativity into empowerment, embracing my heritage despite the teasing I faced for bringing African meals to school. It’s important to remain true to my roots while navigating new social landscapes”. She used this opportunity to embrace her heritage and boost her confidence. She also reflected on the struggle of losing her Ghanaian accent. 

Selamawit Abreha added another layer to the discussion by highlighting the stark differences in social norms between America and Africa. “I lament the absence of the tight-knit community and familial support system I was accustomed to in Ethiopia. Here, in America, I often feel a sense of loneliness and isolation.”. Selamawit also touched upon the challenges posed by Cleveland’s harsh winters, a stark contrast to the temperate climate of her homeland. 

Despite the obstacles they’ve faced, the panelists offered words of encouragement and empowerment to fellow women navigating similar paths. They emphasized the importance of networking, learning about cultural differences, and actively teaching others about their heritage. By intentionally fostering connections and embracing their unique identities, these women are overcoming challenges and paving the way for greater inclusion and understanding within their communities. 

As attendees listened to the stories shared by these remarkable women, they were inspired to reflect on their journeys and consider how they can contribute to a more inclusive and supportive environment for all. The International Women’s Day celebration organized by Global Cleveland was a powerful reminder of the strength and resilience inherent in women from diverse backgrounds and the importance of solidarity in overcoming shared challenges. 

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