Dani Smith, from Orlando, FL, has recently completed her Masters of Public Health at Emory University. Her research was on gender-based violence, and the health impact of gender-based violence in India. Among the many experiences at PPES, Dani taught classes about sexual violence.
Students produced posters that provided resources for women who are victims of sexual violence. She taught about laws in India to protect them if raped and encouraged them to become advocates for others in their villages. The students changed the way she viewed the privilege of education. She was amazed how hard the girls worked to learn English, for it is the only way out of the village and into the worlds they’ve been studying. Conversations surrounding arranged marriage, gender role perceptions, and their place in society truly astounded her. She shared about American wedding proposals, and was asked, “mam, so the girl can say no if she wants?” She was deeply impacted by the engraved perception of marriage and gender roles. Spending 6 weeks living in heat up to 120 degrees, teaching these girls was a great honor, and leaving them was most difficult. Dani keeps in touch with the girls, and is looking forward to her next visit to the village.