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  • “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” Ernest Hemmingway
  • “Judge each day not by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.” Robert Louis Stevenson
  • “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.” Gandhi
  • “Noble deeds that are concealed are most esteemed.” Blaise Pascal
  • “A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.” Ayn Rand
  • “If you want to succeed you should strike out on new paths, rather than travel the worn paths of accepted success.” John D. Rockefeller
  • “Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.” Thomas Jefferson
  • “Sense shines with a double luster when it is set in humility. An able yet humble man is a jewel worth a kingdom.” William Penn
  • “There is a great satisfaction in building good tools for other people to use.” Freeman Dyson
  • “You don't know what you can learn until you try to learn.” Ronald Coase
  • “Let us so live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.” Mark Twain
  • “Create more value than you capture.” Tim O'Reilly

The Asian University for Women: A Special Cause

A friend of mine introduced me to The Asian University for Women (A.U.W.) recently and I was very moved by what I learned of the organization. It’s located in Chittagong, Bangladesh, south of Dhaka near the Bay of Bengal. The founder and acting vice chancellor is Kamal Ahmad, and from what I understand from my friend and further reading, he is quite a special guy. Mr. Ahmad and his team have assembled an impressive group of administrators, teaching faculty, advisors and supporters. You can check them out via the links at the bottom of this post.

The university is geared toward educating young women from throughout Asia, many of whom come from socioeconomic circumstances that would otherwise likely preclude them from accessing such quality education. This year (academic year of 2010-2011) students represent 13 Asian countries. Some of the background stories of the young women attending are quite moving. While the school is not free, a full 75% of students in the “Access Academy” (preparatory) are provided full-funding, and others are provided aid based on need. This assistance continues as the students continue their education through graduation.

Guest lecturers from Harvard, Stanford, and other respected institutions speak at the A.U.W., as do experts in various professional fields from around the world. The diversity of material covered and quality of the participants is impressive.

Here’s a brief video which provides an introductory overview of the university:

The school has been operating in rented facilities, but construction of a new campus designed by Moshe Safdie is to begin very soon. There is information and an artist's rendering on their website. (Edit: I linked to a video of Mr. Safdie explaining his vision of the new campus in the comments here.)

Offices for the A.U.W. Support Foundation are located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.A. The chairman of the foundation is Jack Meyer, who has a significant background in money management on a large scale—another example of the quality of the team behind the A.U.W.

Here are some links to pages on the A.U.W. website (one can read annual reports and other materials by drilling deeper on the site):

First, a link to a brief introduction to The Asian University for Women, in PDF form.

And here are the A.U.W.’s International Council of Advisors and Council of Patrons.

The purpose of posting this is that I hope it helps (in some small way) to expose the A.U.W. to more people. Perhaps you too will be moved by the cause and think of some way to have a positive influence on it—whether giving through direct donation, or presenting it to someone else who can make a donation or sponsor a scholarship. Supporting the university can be done in several ways, and depending on one’s location and circumstances, donations may be tax deductible. Here’s a link to information on their site about such support.end of article icon

UPDATE: The A.U.W. hosted an international symposium January 20th through 22nd, 2011, in Bangladesh. Ms. Marina Mahathir has published an article outlining many of the happenings from that event. There was also a groundbreaking ceremony at the new campus site at Chittagong. Check out Marina’s blog for her post about the progress she sees at the A.U.W.

Related Post: Cherie Blair Assumes Roll as Chancellor of A.U.W.

Posted on Saturday, December 25, 2010 in Giving • (15) Comments

Comments

1. Posted by Rachel S. on December 30, 2010

Thank you for posting this, Dale. I had not heard of the Asian University for Women before and I can see why you were moved by what they are doing. The new campus plans look very exciting and should help them expand the execution of their mission. What a great cause, as you said, and a strong group behind them. Hopefully, more people will learn of the university and get involved. There needs to be more of this type of opportunity around the world for both women and men who are wanting to break the cycle of difficulty in which they live.

2. Posted by Dale Allyn on December 30, 2010

Thanks for commenting, Rachel.

I agree with you regarding the need for more such projects around the world. I’m sure there are others, but the organization and support/execution of the AUW is quite well done.

There’s a short video of Moshe Safdie explaining his vision for design of the new campus. It shows much more information about the new campus than you’ll find on their site. Here's the link.

3. Posted by S. Sundaresan on January 01, 2011

This is wonderful, and from what one can read on their website and looking a little deeper on the web, the Asian University for Women does look like a very good cause. It’s exciting to see this happening. I’ll try to pass this on to others.

4. Posted by Dale Allyn on January 01, 2011

Thanks, S. Sundaresan.

5. Posted by Robert on January 27, 2011

Wow, what a wonderful thing to see. I, too, had not heard of the Asian University for Women before seeing your blog post. This is the kind of positive work we need to see more of to help heal deep scars and build a peaceful future for many troubled parts of the world. It’s inspiring really.

6. Posted by Dale Allyn on January 27, 2011

Robert, I agree. As I mentioned in the last paragraph of my post regarding Cherie Blair assuming the role of chancellor of A.U.W., I believe that this type of effort is not only important from a fundamental education point of view, but also imperative to solving many problems around the world. For me, the work that is being done and the young women at the A.U.W. are very inspiring.

7. Posted by S.J.R. on February 13, 2011

Fantastic!

8. Posted by Elise D. on February 24, 2011

I have read of the Asian University for Woman and since been watching for more information on their efforts. It’s great to see what you’ve posted here about the work being done at the AUW and also the updates in Marina Mahathir’s post. This kind of work is so important. I look forward to more information about their progress. I hope you’ll keep us informed.

9. Posted by Dale Allyn on February 26, 2011

Elise, I’m glad you found this post of interest. As I continue to learn more about the progress and activities at the A.U.W. I’ll do my best to blog about them to share the info with others. I’m very hopeful that the A.U.W. will continue its positive effects and influence on the lives of women in Asia.

10. Posted by MB in Boston on March 06, 2011

What a cool cause. I hope it continues to grow and the concept spreads. Nice to see the support from such strong sources.

11. Posted by Dale Allyn on March 06, 2011

MB, I agree. I was told that Stanford is hosting 26 of the women for summer school this year as well. Pretty cool, and hopefully there’ll be more such opportunities.

12. Posted by Steve S. on March 16, 2011

Dale, it was great to chat with you on the flight from BKK to NRT. (Tragic what has happened in Japan.)

Thanks for pointing me to the AUW. You’re right, this is a great cause and I’ll look deeper into it.

Saw your post on the Blue Sweater too. I look forward to reading it.

Shoot me a note when you’ll be in BKK again. Maybe our schedules will mesh. Let’s have dinner or something.

13. Posted by Dale Allyn on March 16, 2011

Hey, Steve, nice to hear from you. Thanks for commenting here.

Yes, the situation in Japan is very sad. The order, calm and control exhibited by the people of Japan is impressive and encouraging. I know we all wish them the very best as they rebuild.

Thanks for looking into the AUW. This type of project is really worthwhile in my opinion. I’m none-too-shy about my feelings on the subject (i.e. see the Cherie Blair post ;) ).

I think you’ll really like The Blue Sweater. It’s right along the lines of some of what we discussed. The problem is large, but there’s an intelligent way to attack it. Rural Thailand could benefit from many of the same ideas, but so could so many regions. Let’s talk more about this.

Re. dinner in BKK: I’ll look forward to it.

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