Gloria Gonzalez-Zapata, left, and Nura Abdi / Marc Studer photo
A student project to strengthen a women of color healing circle at the University of Washington Bothell has won $5,000 from T-Mobile. The company selected the project as the winner of the Create the Change contest, which is a regular feature of the university’s annual Equity & Inclusion Conference.
The informal healing circle was started this year by Gloria Giselle Gonzalez-Zapata and Nura A. Abdi, who have been meeting with about a half-dozen others in the Student Diversity Center.
The healing circle is conceived as a space where students can be authentically themselves and where they can cultivate a judgment-free sense of belonging using story-telling to nourish good mental health, said Gonzalez-Zapata. The senior, who is majoring in Law, Economics & Public Policy and in Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies, also is a member of the Husky 100, which recognizes outstanding UW students.
With Gonzalez-Zapata graduating in June, the healing circle project will be led by Abdi, a junior studying Law, Economics & Public Policy and Global Studies. She also is a student organizer involved on campus in the Muslim Student Association, Black Student Union and Social Justice Organizers.
The funding from T-Mobile will help the student organizers purchase books and other materials, arrange retreats centered around healing and resilience, and hold social justice training available to the campus community.
“This is a space where we’re aiming to build a community of strong, resilient women of color,” said Abdi. “It’s nice to get the recognition.”
Lifting one another
The Equity & Inclusion Conference is another way the university builds community. It is a platform “to lift one another and make UW Bothell a better place,” Chancellor Wolf Yeigh said.
The event featured six workshops on topics that included supporting victims of sexual violence, best practices for undocumented students, and a board game illustrating the impacts of race, gender and class.
Keynote speaker Loretta Ross brought the conference together with a talk called, “Calling IN the Calling OUT Culture: Accountability through Love.” The visiting professor of practice in the School of Social Transformation at Arizona State University warned of public shaming she has seen on social media.
Instead of “calling out,” she called for privately urging change with a “calling in” based on love, self-love and mutual respect to build a united human rights movement.
“Calling in is a bridge role where someone crosses you to a higher understanding,” Ross said.
The fifth annual conference, held May 10 in the Activities & Recreation Center, drew about 180 people, including UW Bothell staff, faculty and students as well as educators and others from outside of campus.
T-Mobile has been a conference partner since the beginning, said Wayne Au, interim campus diversity officer and dean of Diversity & Equity.
The event also was supported by the Office of the Chancellor, Office of Alumni Engagement, Student Diversity Center, and the Associated Students of the University of Washington Bothell.
Gloria Gonzalez-Zapata and Nura Abdi talk with Wayne Au. / Marc Studer photo