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Women discuss being possessors of life, wisdom

04/06/2010
By:

Kaitlyn Naples

General Assignment Reporter

The Women Speak Series centers around the understanding of women as possessors of life and wisdom, according to graduate intern of the Women’s Center Starsheemar Byrum.

“The Women Speak Series seeks to grant space to the voices of women here at SCSU,” she said. It is “a way to pass on voice and promote transformation within our community.”

Dr. Yi-Chun Tricia Lin spoke last Monday about her experiences and accomplishments.

“[Lin] embodies the essence of the Women Speak Series, with her incredible strength, perseverance, compassion and wisdom,” Byrum said.

Lin traveled from Taiwan to the U.S. to pursue a doctoral degree in continental philosophy and theory. In the process she learned about ethnic and women’s studies, Byrum said. She added that Lin’s dissertation focuses on Asian-American women’s European education.

“Since her doctoral days, her research and teaching has gone intensely ethnic, feminist and post-colonial.”

At the event, Lin said the speech she was about to give was a very difficult one.

“Thanks to my very Confucian upbringing, I find it hard to talk about myself,” Lin said.

Her Confucian upbringing focused on the practice of the values of the philosopher Confucius. Lin said this background consisted of following three values required of a Confucian daughter.

“One, is when she is in her house, she obeys her father; once married, she obeys her husband; once widowed, she obeys her son,” she said. “Her life is a life of servitude.”

Lin also said in Chinese tradition, there were five levels of classes: “Scholars, farmers, workers, merchants and women.”

She said her father was the only person of his generation to break out of the working class.

Lin said she was taught to be a good girl and excel in school. She went to college in Taiwan and taught grades seven through nine for two years.

“It was the worst time in my life,” she said.

She said it made her not want to teach anymore.

“It made me to be a human watch dog,” she said, regarding the level of discipline there was in the school system.

Lin became a college professor before coming to Southern.

“Before joining the women’s studies faculty at SCSU in 2004,” Byrum said, “Lin taught writing and Asian-American literature at City University of New York: Borough of Manhattan Community College.”

“That was when my real education began,” Lin said, adding that teaching her own class was “tremendous fun.”

She said she thought she would never teach again until she realized, “teaching life has the potential to transform the teacher and every human being she becomes in touch with.”

Lin said her students at CUNY introduced to her to an association called “Renegade Writers.” She said her experience serving as a faculty adviser to this association was her “real awakening.”

She said it made her look at her past education and realize the beauty of her wanting to learn more about Women’s studies did not have to happen formally, in a classroom.

After never taking a women’s studies course, and realizing women’s work can happen in so many places, she became interested in women’s literature. She said her students showed her that she was an activist,
which she said she never saw in herself.

At CUNY, “She discovered her passion for teaching, for liberation of all minds and found her calling and struggle for peace and justice,” Byrum said.

Lin said she has come very far from where she began.

“No one could ever imagine the place I am in today,” she said.

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