On her 80th Birthday: Reflections on Meeting Gloria Steinem in India

Gloria Steinem spoke at the India International Center in January to launch her book tour (photo credit: Ileana Jiménez, Feminist Teacher).

Gloria Steinem spoke in January at the India International Centre in Delhi to launch her book tour for “As if Women Matter.” (photo credit: Ileana Jiménez, Feminist Teacher).

At the start of 2014, I led a seven-week tour of schools in India speaking to high school students about feminism and education.

Little did I know that one of my favorite feminists and fellow Smith alums, Gloria Steinem, would also be conducting an Indian tour of her own.

One morning in Delhi, I opened an email from Smith trustee, Mona Sinha. She urged me to go hear Steinem at the nearby India International Centre, where she was going to speak about her new book, As if Women Matter, alongside her longtime friend and fellow activist, Ruchira Gupta, founder of Apne Aap, which supports survivors of sex trafficking, and who had also edited Steinem’s new book.

I immediately made my reservation. I wanted a chance to speak to her in the very country that had changed her life forever.

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Spoke at Smith Women in Education Conference (VIDEO)

In March of this year, I was invited to sit on several panels as part of the Smith Women in Education conference at Smith College in Northampton, MA. I was thrilled to be back on campus even if just for a few days, as it took place right in the middle of my Fulbright time in México; it was absolutely invigorating and inspiring to be among Smith sisters in education making change in their classrooms and in their communities.

One of the things I talked about during a panel titled Teaching in the 21st Century, that was moderated by Smith alumna Joan Sigel Schuman from the class of 1962, was the importance of teachers coming to the classroom as whole people, especially along lines of race, class, gender, and sexuality. Our students know when we are not being real or true with them, and we as teachers also suffer when we are not our whole selves with our students, our colleagues, and our school communities.

I went through a time of not being a whole person myself when as a young teacher, I was not completely true to my students during my time in girls’ schools between 1997-2004. There I was, teaching young women to be empowered and to become self-actualized as young feminists, and I was not even out to my students; as a result, I was not a whole educator or a whole person in my profession. I was not self-actualized. Continue reading