Gathering at the Well Shows Women Changing Our World
The title of the recent Gathering at the Well Forum, held April 11 in Alumni Hall, is rooted in metaphor. In the early lives of women, the well was traditionally the place where work was done. But a deep running well sustained life and also served as a meeting place where support networks were cultivated and a sense of community was built.
Sponsored by the UMass Lowell Council on Diversity and Pluralism, the Gathering at the Well was established in 1998 as such a meeting place. The event focused on women's impact on the world. Keynote speakers Dorothy Burladge, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist, and Sue Thrasher, Ph.D. with the Five College Public School Partnership, addressed an audience of nearly one hundred and talked of growing up in the segregated South and their experiences with the Freedom Movement.
During her talk, an emotional Burladge spoke of her decision to join the Freedom Movement, which alienated her from family and friends. As you walk toward the future, she said, you are often forced to leave people behind. Burladge and Thrasher also showed the audience a string of haunting vignettes that portrayed the everyday struggle of blacks under the weight of Jim Crow Laws in the racially divided South.
The forum culminated with a special multi-media presentation about the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) by Anne Brodsky, Ph.D. and Alicia Lucksted, Ph.D., both from the University of Maryland. RAWA runs schools, orphanages and work projects for the refugees of Afghanistan. Brodsky and Luckstead relayed their experiences, sharing stories and photos about the efforts of RAWA in Pakistan. Brodsky, who recently returned from Pakistan, talked of her visits to Afghan camps and urban centers where she met and spoke with hundreds of refugees. Lucksted is one of the founders and coordinators of the U.S. Supporters Network, a national grassroots network that assists RAWA's efforts.