WE LEARN presents issues, encourages involvement

WE LEARN presents issues, encourages involvement

By Kate Augusto

It is time to see the world from a fresh, broad perspective. By getting a greater sense of the world, you can connect with new people and learn about yourself, according to Women Expanding/Literacy Education Action Resource Network (WE LEARN), a women’s literacy advocacy group.

Last weekend, Northeastern held the fourth annual WE LEARN Networking Conference on Women and Literacy. The conference promoted networking and learning about oneself by advocating for literacy among women. Few students were present at the conference, however, since it took place the same week as spring break.

“[WE LEARN] promotes women’s literacy as a tool for personal growth and social change through networking, education, action and resource development,” according to the mission statement on the group’s website.

The theme of the conference was “Threads of Experience: Creative Spaces for Women’s Learning.”

Attendees heard stories of women who have struggled in literacy and other academic issues and women who have participated in workshops promoting holistic learning.

The School of Professional and Continuing Studies (SPCS) sponsored this year’s conference to help work with local and global communities and find ways to give adults access to higher education, said Terri Arnold, assistant director of international academic programs in SPCS.

While WE LEARN tries to help disadvantaged women gain access to learning, the message of WE LEARN applies to all students, including men, said Antonia Darder, the keynote speaker of the conference. This is because literacy is about how whole life experiences determine how one learns, she said.

The workshops at the conference were based around five “threads” that incorporated the idea of whole life experiences contributing to education and literacy. One thread was holistic, which focused on reflective learning through poetry and other literary sources. Other workshops focused on abuse against women, abuse recovery, socioeconomics and how to transition from college to the real world. The final workshop was about women’s programs that highlighted different ways to learn besides academics, like team sports, which teach people how to interact with one other.

“All these different programs are the different threads of opportunity to learn other ways that can be used and experimented with that makes use of whole being that’s not just taking notes and spitting something back,” said Mev Miller, founder and executive director of WE LEARN.

Since Northeastern is an urban school in an urban community, Arnold said Northeastern students should take advantage of the immense opportunities around them and engage in activities that will enhance these areas of their lives.

“College for me was very insular and I don’t know if that’s how it still is but it’s very easy to become insular,” Arnold said. “Each person must decide to go out in the larger community and see what’s out there. Students should look for alternative ideas for co-op or for volunteering. A lot of people think literacy or ESL isn’t an issue until you go to different neighborhoods and realize not everyone speaks English.”

Even without actively looking for work or volunteer opportunities, Darder said students can broaden their experience by meeting people.

“Creating opportunities for students to enter into dialogue with one another about the ways that their lives are similar and the ways that their lives are different is a very good strategy,” she said. “Then it’s not just about the teacher teaching students but that students have a lot to teach each other about their lives and how they understand the condition in which they live.”

With WE LEARN, young women in particular can also benefit by being closer to the women’s movement, though many consider it outdated, Miller said.

Although few students were at the conference, Northeastern’s Feminist Student Organization (FSO) is working to promote these issues in many ways.

Leave a Reply