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Student Leaders from Central Asia Studying at Green River Community College

SUSI students start their study tour in Washington, D.C. before they arrive in Washington state.SUSI students start their study tour in Washington, D.C. before they arrive in Washington state.

Over the past eight years, Green River Community College has had the rare honor of being one of only four institutes nationwide--and the only community college--to host a woman's leadership program as part of the Study of the United States Institutes.

This summer, 19 female university students from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan are participating in the Women's Leadership Institute on our campus.

The SUSI Women's Leadership Program is funded by the U.S. Department of State under the Fulbright-Hays Act to foster mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. Our curriculum for the 2014 SUSI program focuses on leadership, change and empowerment for women, in the context of both the participant's own country and of American society.

Students from Kyrgyzstan discuss women’s issues.
Students from Kyrgyzstan discuss women’s issues.

The 2014 SUSI program consists of two study tours. The cohort started their program on June 28 in Washington, D.C. with a cultural festival and the Women's Leadership Conference at the Department of State. The students arrived in Washington state on July 3 for their second part, where they are now attending lectures on Woman's Issues, U.S. History, Social Service Leadership and Environmental Stewardship.

The program balances academic lectures and activities with practical experiences. The students meet with community leaders and local organizations to learn about the opportunities and challenges women face, and how these groups have strategized, developed action plans and built strong networks of women leaders.

The Institute will link these emerging issues and themes with participants' community service activities and experiences, to highlight the practicality of what they are proposing to undertake following their return to their home countries.

The college's post-SUSI agenda will include a conference in 2017 in one or more of the countries represented.