Beyond Borders: education, collaboration, and commitment

On Thursday, October 26, seventeen Dickinson students attended the Women’s Education Project Beyond Borders Forum in New York City. Women’s Education Project, founded in 2002 by Zoe Timms, is a nonprofit organization with locations in south India and New York City that, according to its website, “provides resources for young women from families living on less than $1.50 a day to graduate from college and begin a career.” Timms founded the project after living in south India for a number of years, where she developed close personal relationships with girls struggling to obtain resources for education. Alumnae of the program are now employed in many different sectors in various regions of India, such as finance and healthcare.

The Women’s Education Project decided to bring together the many different organizations they work with in a culminating event dedicated to celebrating and furthering collaboration. The Beyond Borders forum, held at Microsoft Technology Center in Times Square, had over one hundred attendees. The night’s schedule included a keynote speech from Ruchira Gupta, the founder of Apne Aap, an organization dedicated to ending sex trafficking in India; a panel discussion with several global leaders who shared personal stories; and a networking hour where students and organization members came together to chat over Indian samosas and biryani. We discussed ways to get involved with the many organizations based in New York and bonded as our own group of Dickinson students after being stuck in a minivan for four hours together!

Prior to the evening forum, 28 organizations held a roundtable discussion to share ideas about how to collaborate with one another to unite around a common goal: to improve girls’ access to education around the world and help them pursue their dream careers. Some organizations largely fund the projects of smaller nonprofits, others work directly with children in schools, and still others are groups inspired by films (such as Girl Rising) that provide a new kind of narrative to the world to draw attention to the need for girls’ education.

The amazing women who attended this event—from organizational leaders to an all-female a capella group to alumnae of school programs in Afghanistan—were the stars of the evening. Their passionate messages of support for girls’ education and range of experiences and contacts around the world blew me away. Ruchira Gupta had just come from a meeting with actor Ashley Judd that morning, where they discussed ways to end sex trafficking in India. Kayce Freed Jennings, senior producer of the film Girl Rising, moderated the panel of four extremely knowledgeable and personable women who worked in various areas of their respective organizations. The all-female acapella group Mezzo did a wonderful rendition of Katy Perry’s “Roar” that had everyone clapping along (you can check out more of their stuff here: The forum was a truly inspiring event that celebrated collaboration and the potential that arises when everyone works as one team.

Written by Angelica Mishra ’19, WGRC student worker and Secretary of the Dickinson College AAUW chapter