Release Date: March 7, 2019
BUFFALO, N.Y. – Amherst Central High School and the University at Buffalo’s Graduate School of Education will team up for what may be the first-ever celebration in a Western New York school of International Women’s Day, featuring school-wide events and “learn-in/tech-in” sessions to raise awareness of women’s issues among all students.
The motto for the day is “Be informed. Be inspired.”
When: The sessions will take place during all three school lunch periods, from 10:50 a.m. to 1:04 p.m., Friday, March 8.
Where: Amherst Central High School, 4301 Main St., Amherst, N.Y. 14226.
What: The event, which organizers believe is the first of its kind at a Western New York secondary school, includes seminars and activities for all students on three themes affecting women locally, nationally and throughout the world. The program follows a week-long lead-up of announcements and flyers to raise awareness of women’s issues and struggles for equality around the world.
The three themes, which were identified through discussions with the young women in the school, are media, STEM/health and politics. Each lunch period will focus on one of the identified themes, and each discussion will be followed by a hands-on activity.
Who: The event was organized by Sarah A. Robert, associate professor in UB’s Graduate School of Education and director of the Teaching and Leading for Diversity program. Robert was asked to get involved by Amherst Central High School Assistant Principal Nancy Ables.
Also invited to present are Noemi Waight, UB assistant professor of learning and instruction, who will discuss STEM/Health, and Ana Luisa Muñoz García, assistant professor of curriculum, technology and evaluation at Pontifícia Universidad Católica de Chile, who will discuss politics.
Also involved in the planning was Qinghua Chen, a UB doctoral candidate studying in Robert’s course on Intersectionality, Inequality and Education.
Eileen Buckley, senior reporter at WBFO-FM, also will speak to students during the first lunch period.
Why: “I saw my involvement as that of guide,” says Robert. “They had an idea and I approached my work similar to the children’s book titled, ‘What do you do with an idea?’
“I knew of the celebration (of International Women’s Day) and I have participated in it when I lived in Argentina. However, I was not aware of any schools in the area that were celebrating the day.
“As guide, I drew on my skills as an ethnographer, as a professional researcher who studies everyday life, seeking the meaning of it from the participants’ own words and experiences. So it was important to me that we listened to young women students because this is a celebration of and for them.
“‘What does it mean to be a young woman in Amherst today? What matters to you?’ It is from these conversations that the themes emerged. The women students were concerned about reproductive health and sexuality, unequal pay for women and men, the representation of women in the media and in politics, and the lack of paid maternity leave.”
Robert says she was “honored” by the students’ candor.
“They were willing to talk, share their ideas, and so I hope that the event reflects those conversations and respects their concerns for learning more and raising awareness about issues that matter to them.”
The structure of the events, she says, are more than just another lecture aimed at young people. “School teachers asked for a participatory event, a conversation that was informative as well as an opportunity to practice dialogue,” says Robert. “The social studies teachers also were concerned about broadening their students’ knowledge of engagement with the world. This is what encouraged the search for speakers from Western New York and beyond.”
For more information, contact Charles Anzalone in UB’s Office of Communications.