2019 Displaced Women's Scholarship Awardee Summaries

2019 Displaced Women's Scholarship Awardee Summaries

One of the most lovely things about a women’s organization is that our supporters involve their families from the start. There is an intergenerational draw—women bring their kids to play as they mentor, daughters bring their mothers to meet our executive staff and link their family foundation to our work.

That is how we met the wonderful donor behind the Displaced Women’s Scholarship Fund—through her daughter—women committed to helping women with hearts and hands. Their family trusted us to setup the scholarship and we are proud to present their stories here.

The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After

Women of the World is excited to promote this amazing book of seeking refuge and making a life of resettlement. WoW is working with the publishers and Clemantine to have a Skype chat hosted by a local library... so stay tuned for details.

Bridging Gaps and Cultivating Foundation - A 12-week Program for Refugee High School Girls

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  • Self-Identity
  • Social Justice
  • Roots
  • “My Story”

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  • Understanding Gender
  • Healthy Relationships
  • Communication
  • Dating

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  • What breaks your heart?
  • Voice
  • Expression
  • Community

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  • Sense of belonging
  • Path Through Higher Education
  • Balance
  • Mindfulness Practices

[/et_pb_blurb][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]

What happens when you put young women leaders in a room for twelve weeks?

Well, you begin to uncover the details of how stories intertwine, ebb and flow, and collectively culminate power that shines through. Past the anger and the struggle of every day. You see the beauty that illuminates the commitment to not give up and walk a path of uncertainty, but one that needs to be walked.Each one of the 7 young African women has a story to tell and have gone to their growth-edge to make sure that they are heard and not silenced. Each one of them has taken time to critically think and engage in their own level of vulnerability to write a piece of their own story to share hoping that it will create change in the way we react, act, and engage in the SLC community.The learnings that came from this course is meant to be intimate and proactive. We encourage you to come wanting to engage in the experiences of these young women knowing that you will learn from them. We thank you in advance for taking the time and sitting with us, as we tell OUR stories.

Who were the Participants?

In total ten young women participated in the program. They came from two different schools and their age range was 15-18yrs. The recruitment of the program was done through word-of-mouth. Though the program sought to have a more diverse group in school/culture/background/life-story — there was limited time to do adequate recruitment. Each of the recruited young women came into the program with their own set of skills and perspectives. The young women proved to be outstanding group to work with. All women were of African families, some were born in the U.S., and all have the ability to talk about the refugee experience, though many of the young women do not self -identify as refugees.*Note: The program flexed with involvement of initial participants, by the end of the 12 weeks, 3 participants had left, but the program gained one new participant later into the program. Seven women participated in their end-of-program event: We as Women all as Women: Shining light on our stories, creating new narrative, listen to our voices.

Educational Component

All the educational material and lessons were built to dissect four themes in the 12 weeks. Those 4 themes can be seen above in MODULES. All educational material was presented with social justice in the forefront of the classroom. All educational material was pulled from previous knowledge of the facilitator; activities, workshops; websites such as: Teaching Tolerance, and books on education and identity.[/et_pb_text][et_pb_testimonial admin_label="Ruth" author="Ruth Arevalo" url_new_window="off" portrait_url="" quote_icon="on" use_background_color="on" background_color="rgba(224,182,92,0.42)" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]Why am I here? Where do I fit into this story? Well…My story and body starts at a confluence of blood that historically and phenotypically were determined by hierarchy and power to not match. This means as I grew I was placed in ambuigity and confusion of where I fit in this world.This… Exacerbated by the death of those who brought me into this world. I laid on the floor as a small child looking into the sky while I felt the whole world falling around me breathing in and out….[/et_pb_testimonial][et_pb_text admin_label="Text2" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]


The aspects of uncovering the layers of identity were fundamental to programming. Exploring the aspects of our identities that put forth contingencies because society has given us a label.Understanding privilege and our own privilege/or not being able to access certain privileges and how that is wrapped into our identities and how to healthily navigate spaces with this knowledge was prioritized.

Safety and Cohesion

Safe and inclusive space, the importance of feeling safe is dire to creating space for communication, growth, and developmentCreating flexibility and space for all to talk, be heard, and to be ok with tensions or disagreements. We understood that conflict is part of growth and conflict resolution allows cohesion and respect between group members.


The base of communication that was set up was implemented with intentional time given to build trust. Weekly check-ins at meetings with active listening and feedback along with outside meeting check-ins once a month by phone to continue to develop rapport and depth to the relationship between participant and facilitator.It was monumental to give and provide space for all feelings, thoughts, and actions to be heard, discussed, and validated.Some of the women had a stronger presence, confidence, and base of knowledge to put to their voice, as some were still growing into how they desire to best express themselves and communicate with others.All participants began to engage in what it meant to have courage to stand up for themselves and also gaining comfort in what it meant to ask for help. Most importantly we continued the conversation of how important voice is for women of color.All participants were expected to work together and use their communication skills to work through frustrations and uncertainty to create a public event at the end of the 12 weeks.The event “We as Women All as Women” show cased the importance of story and provided space for each of the young women to capture one characteristic important to them and use spoken word to express it with a critical and profound lens. The open dialogue that was led by the young women at the end of their performance was to engage the public to ask questions about the importance of why their stories should be heard and why they are using their voices to express the changes they want to see from the perspective of being young African women living in the United States in this very pivotal moment in history.[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_testimonial admin_label="Saida" author="Saida" url_new_window="off" portrait_url="" quote_icon="on" use_background_color="on" background_color="rgba(189,143,232,0.62)" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]At the beginning of the 12 weeks I spent with Ruth and the other 8 girls I was very skeptical of what I was getting myself into. Would I be just wasting my time in a boring club listening to people with monochromatic voices talking about challenges women face? I knew all the challenges women face, I face them every single day of my life. Why did I need to talk about it over and over again? I decided to give the group the benefit of the doubt and just go to one meeting. If I didn’t like it I would just stop coming, it was going to be a piece of cake. I would walk in share a few sad stories, listen to people share a few of their sad stories, and I would be out the door. Boy, was I wrong.As soon as I opened the doors of the building where the meetings were held a strange feeling hit me. This feeling was of comfort and understanding. I knew from that moment that this wasn’t just a club where we would sit talking about our feelings. It was a club where we would take ACTION about our feelings. The other 8 girls and I sat down at the table nervous about what was to come. We didn’t know that this 12 weeks program would make us a family.“When I think of this group I think of one word, Diverse. Not only in that we come from different countries around the world, but also that we all have different opinions and outlooks on the world,” said Naima Dahir a group member.This 12 week journey was a pathway to more knowledge for us girls. We learned more than we have ever learned anywhere, including school.“Topics that were covered where, Identity, including the complexities and intersections of identity/ies. The importance of telling your story. What it looks like to advocate for yourself and intervene when you see or are in the situation of injustice.  We talked about racialized and gendered language as well as aspects of healthy relationships and communication,” said Ruth Arevalo the facilitator of the group.At the end of the program us girls organized and held our own get together. We shared stories, poems, dances, and what everyone loved most, the food. The idea behind the event was to have an open conversation of what we all learned together. It was an event that brought women of color together to  showcase our progress and have a good time. For many of the girls in the group they didn’t have a lot of space to talk about what they go through on a daily basis. This helped open up the discussion.“I feel that our message to our audience was fulfilled. And that individuals left our event that night inspired, ready to make moves, transformed and most importantly label free,” said Heba Geiang a group member.  I am very glad I took the risk and joined this group. It was one of the most amazing experiences that I have ever gone through. Everyday you can make decision that will change your life. Sometimes you hesitate. I am glad my hesitation lasting for only a second, and I dove right in to pave the way to my future life.Learning about Slope in Math class, Literary Devices in English, and Mitochondria in Science are all very important. But none of those topics will establish the foundation of who we are. Identity, Stories, Relationships, and Communication are what makes us human. We are different people than when we started 12 weeks ago, and we have all changed for the better.[/et_pb_testimonial][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]

Episode 2: May ’16 Refugee Podcast with Diane from Burkina Faso

[et_pb_section admin_label="section" transparent_background="off" allow_player_pause="off" inner_shadow="off" parallax="off" parallax_method="on" custom_padding="11px|0px|57px|0px" padding_mobile="off" make_fullwidth="off" use_custom_width="off" width_unit="off" custom_width_px="1080px" custom_width_percent="80%" make_equal="off" use_custom_gutter="off" fullwidth="off" specialty="off" disabled="off"][et_pb_row admin_label="row" make_fullwidth="off" use_custom_width="off" width_unit="off" custom_width_px="1080px" custom_width_percent="80%" use_custom_gutter="off" gutter_width="3" custom_padding="9px|0px|9px|0px" padding_mobile="off" allow_player_pause="off" parallax="off" parallax_method="on" make_equal="off" column_padding_mobile="on" parallax_1="off" parallax_method_1="on" parallax_2="off" parallax_method_2="on" parallax_3="off" parallax_method_3="on" parallax_4="off" parallax_method_4="on" disabled="off"][et_pb_column type="4_4"][et_pb_text admin_label="Text" background_layout="light" text_orientation="left" use_border_color="off" border_style="solid" disabled="off" border_color="#ffffff"]Women of the World’s Podcast for this month features Diane from Burkina Faso, one of the political asylee seekers that Women of the World assists. Diane is an amazing young woman, choosing her path against the pressure of family and culture, choosing to be happy even though she has suffered some very personal tragedies.Diane is extraordinarily courageous in this interview as she talks about her young life of political dissent where rape was used as a tactic of intimidation, overcoming the stigma of female genital cutting, and her current struggle to gain an education against the wishes of her father and tribal chief who is set on a more traditional life for her.Women of the World’s Podcast team also discusses the recent Mother’s Day celebration and some international press coverage we received on the Bold Global blog.[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label="Row" make_fullwidth="off" use_custom_width="off" width_unit="off" custom_width_px="1080px" custom_width_percent="80%" use_custom_gutter="off" gutter_width="3" custom_padding="42.75px|0px|35px|0px" padding_mobile="off" allow_player_pause="off" parallax="off" parallax_method="on" make_equal="off" column_padding_mobile="on" parallax_1="off" parallax_method_1="on" parallax_2="off" parallax_method_2="on" parallax_3="off" parallax_method_3="on" parallax_4="off" parallax_method_4="on" disabled="off"][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_text admin_label="Subscribe on iTunes" background_layout="light" text_orientation="center" use_border_color="off" border_color="#ffffff" border_style="solid"]Women of the World’s refugee podcast is a place where ‘our ladies’ can share their stories and aspirations and where we can highlight activities important to refugees and service providers in Salt Lake City, Utah and around the world.PodcastSubscribeButton[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type="1_2"][et_pb_code admin_label="Libsyn" disabled="off"]<iframe style="border: none" src="//" height="90" width="640" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen></iframe>[/et_pb_code][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]

Free English Classes - See Calendar for Updated Times

Women of the World is thrilled to announce that we are holding numerous Free English Classes at our new office location.  Our wonderful teachers give an hour or two every week to help refugees improve in this all important first skill that our new neighbors must learn.  If you need help with your English, please consider attending.

Tuesdays at 3:00 p.m. & Saturdays at 11:00 a.m.

Women Of the World Office

3347 S Main Street

Salt Lake City, UT 84115

Phone # 801-953-0008

Meet our Wonderful Teachers

BGMcGill KadenWoolf
B.G. McGill Kaden Woolf

Public Radio Return on Refugee Service Investment

This morning, the Salt Lake City Public radio station KRCL aired a brief interview with Women of the World Founder and Executive Director, Samira Harnish, on the "Return on Investment" that support for the refugee women population can have on the community.The women refugees that make up part of our new neighbor populations here in America have overcome great adversity to start at the bottom in our system, but Women of the World believes that like many immigrants before them, these refugee women will integrate and become self-reliant.As you know from reading this newsletter, Women of the World differentiates itself in the landscape of refugee service by focusing on women still facing issues after their resettlement benefits have expired.  Women of the World builds self-reliance by customizing service to the specific need, working alongside "our ladies" to solve the issue together, and building capacity in English, employment skills, and education.Samira Harnish says, "It can be hard, challenging to overcome a past of violence and oppression, a struggle against poverty in a new home where the rules and language are unfamiliar, but our ladies love it here because they have a chance to keep their kids safe and through hard work, succeed."That is the Return on Investment that Women of the World guarantees the communities it works in.

Follow Your Passion Media features Women of the World

The 2015 Momentum Continues

Women of the World's media momentum continues into 2015 with Nkoyo Iyamba's piece on KSL entitled "Follow Your Passion" in which she highlights Utah citizens that have left careers to pursue something they are passionate about.  Nkoyo led off this series with Women of the World's Founder and President Samira Harnish's story which involves the choice of following her passion to serve and enable women refugees to a level of success like she enjoyed but retired from in her engineering career.  Samira has been successful in academia, in the high-tech industry as a Research & Development engineer, and now as the focal point for the support of refugee women and their families in Utah.The story got picked up by both KSL's website under the title of "Woman helps refugees thrive in Utah" and by Deseret News under the title "Follow your passion: Utahns change careers in pursuit of happiness."  Indeed while it has been difficult to serve with few resources and in a learning as you go mode, Samira has "never been happier or more fulfilled in her life."  The new neighbors that Women of the World supports, according to Samira, "are the real heroes and I appreciate every opportunity to highlight their amazing stories of perseverance and courage."Follow Your PassionWomen of the World is thrilled by the ongoing reporting that Nkoyo Iyamba is focusing on refugee women in Utah and the service women and men that Women of the World is employing to help them achieve their self-reliance.  Nkoyo's commitment to the advancement of all of Utah's diverse community is a service to journalism and to the small nonprofits, like Women of the World, that count on the spotlight that she can shine on our heartfelt activities.

Contact with Mary Dickson promotes Women Refugee Annual Celebration

This week the host of Contact, KUED 7's Mary Dickson promotes Women Refugee Annual Celebration held by Women of the World at the Salt Lake County Building (2001 S. State Street in Salt Lake City).  You can still get tickets to this event by going to Women of the World's Eventbrite page.Click the picture below to go to the KUED site to see the full video:

KUED Women of the World Promoting Salt Lake City Event

Please join us for a day of celebration for:

  • Women who received graduate degrees in 2013
  • Women who became American citizens
  • Women who are learning English
  • Many more exciting and successful stories


  • 2:15 Founder's Welcome
  • 2:30 Women Refugee Successful Stories & certification.  We will also present the WOMAN OF THE YEAR
  • 3:00 Dancing Group from Nepal
  • 3:15 Visit, eat, and have fun!

Generosity of Teton

Thank you Teton Sports Teton Sports has generously donated backpacks for the education of refugee schoolchildren and adults in education for the past two years.  Teton Sports makes the highest quality backpack that I've ever seen, all of the components and craftsmanship are of the highest quality.  These backpacks are not defective or used but come right out of the factory new to our refugee neighbors, a rare and treasured gift for sure.It is this type of donation that goes straight to the heart of what Women of the World hopes to accomplish.  More than any other opportunity granted to refugees, the gift of an education is the most precious and the most highly pursued.  Our refugee children and women work hard at their education, but like the rest of us, feel saddened if they are always using substandard books and equipment.  This donation helps them to feel truly a part of their educational experience, proud to contribute.  It is the little things, the quality and color of the backpack, the continual advocacy on their behalf and their mothers, that will turn today's refugee student into the business, governmental, or nonprofit success of tomorrow.

IMFT Job Skills Training

IMFT Strategic Programs Group is joining with Women of the World for its Day of Service to teach job skills to refugee women looking for work in the Salt Lake City area.When: Thursday 29 NovTime : 10am - 1pmWhere: Hser Ner Moo Center 479 East 2250 South, South Salt Lake City, UT Job Skills Training*Session 1: Internet Job SearchSession 2: Resume Writing & WordprocessingSession 3: InterviewingSession 4: General Job Skills (How to do a great job!)*Not an IMFT hiring event

English Language Learning Tutoring 2011

Women of the World has started tutoring some in its community in English!  We are happy to have partners from the BYU Students for International Development group making the long trek to Salt Lake City to volunteer as tutors and Professor Joan Dixon and Education Coordinator Ruth Arevalo developing the experiential curriculum.

Differentiation of English Language Learner Program

The English Language Learning program offered by Women of the World is different from others offered to Salt Lake City refugees...

  • Small group seating that fosters social relationships with little instructor lecturing
  • Students talking about situations where they used English in real life as opposed to grammar lessons
  • Walls covered with the levels of English proficiency that the class developed and the roles where they will use English.

Each discussion will foster the learners taking responsibility for their own learning, developing their own materials including a dictionary built based on subject/situation not the arbitrary alphabet, and doing most of the talking, expressing and being facilitated to learn the English “they wished they’d had” in daily situations of the past week.Another difference, important for funders, is that the results enabled by the course are not the traditional “teach to the test” but are based on the National Institute for Literacy’s Equipped for the Future (EFF) Standards. From the twice weekly, two-hour sessions, the Women of the World ELL students will define how different levels of learners progress in the below EFF standards and will then be measured on their own scale and their progress reported.[gn_quote style="3"]

  • Access needed information.
  • Take independent action.
  • Express their own ideas and opinions.
  • Keep up with a changing world.
  • Exercise their rights and responsibilities as family members, workers, and community members

[/gn_quote]One example of this from a class taught by Professor Dixon, defined a level 1 learner as “Name and greeting” while a level 2 learner was a “secret English speaker” – the difference being that a level 2 learner could communicate but the broken nature of their communication kept them from speaking. A progression through levels in each of the three roles will be the reported results for each learner. Women of the World expects an average of 1.5 level progression for each 40-class semester.

Salt Lake County Need for Refugee ELL Class

In closing, Women of the World would like to convey the excitement and need the community has expressed for this ELL program. Women who have some English skills express their concern over how their medical interpreter seems to not get all the right information communicated, women who have no English skills get more distant from their English-speaking teens and the whole community suffers, and a family without a second income suffers or is stuck on social assistance. While an improving English language learner targeting education can be measured with a test, because of the broad reach of a woman’s role in society, her literacy must improve in the laboratory of life, the classroom of the community.See more English Language Learner Training snippets on the Women of the World Youtube Channel at

Grant Awarded!

Tonight Women of the World was granted a cash award to continue its work in educating women refugee English language learners.  This grant was donated by theUWABC Grant Awardees - Women of the WorldUtah Women's Alliance for Building Communities and will be used to develop a tutoring curriculum for teaching English language learners the basics in conversational English -- the language skills that they need in the grocery store, in the hospital, and to improve the lives of themselves and their families.  Since Women of the World found one of its members unable to speak for herself when her landlord failed to fix the mold overtaking their apartment, we have been active in determining which language skills are essential for new immigrants and refugees to develop in order to build self-sufficiency -- we feel we have developed a good list in this regard.Women of the World was one of two grantees chosen from over 25 applicants.  All grantees and awardees are performing gracious works of service and Women of the World is fortunate to be amongst such helpful and caring company.  As founder Samira Harnish said in her acceptance speech, "with this grant, you have given women a voice to overcome their own struggles and I ensure you the first thank you letter is coming from a newly literate woman in the spring."  You can see Samira's entire speech on WoW TV.UWABC and Women of the World Presidents