The Wurtele Center for Work & Life regularly organizes students' participation in a variety of domestic and international leadership conferences. Students selected to participate receive funding for all conference-related expenses. Although the Wurtele Center for Work & Life coordinates the funding process for these conferences, we are not the sole source of funding. If you have questions about the funding application process or any of our upcoming opporunities, please contact Ally Einbinder, WCWL Program Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
upcoming leadership conferences
March 2015 (Dates TBA)
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Each spring, Dubai Women's College hosts Insight Dubai, an interactive conference that brings together sixty young women from around the world and pairs them with Dubai Women's College students for five days of learning, sharing and growing together. Participants develop global awareness, intercultural understanding and leadership skills through working together in small groups, listening to expert guest speakers and panelists, going on field trips and taking part in role plays and other simulations. The issues explored vary from year to year and include topics as diverse as inheritance under Sharia law, Arabic governance, promoting peace, and combating human trafficking.
To apply for funding for the 2015 Insight Dubai Conference, please select "Insight Dubai 2015 Conference" from the drop-down menu below (at the bottom of this section on Upcoming Leadership Conferences). Application essays should not exceed 750 words.
Here's what past participants are saying and doing:
On Thursday, April 19, 2012, Marie Jones '14, Jessica Kalled '13 and Samyah Ahmed '12 gave a presentation about their experience at the 2012 Insight Dubai Conference. A fourth participant, Kimberly Drew '12, sent a written reflection. Below are quotes and photographs from the event, as well as a trailer from Jessica Kalled's upcoming film about the conference.
"For the first time, I was referred to as an 'international student.'" - Samyah Ahmed '12
"My favorite part was having a buddy... and I still talk to my body. We had a lot of great conversations -- she didn't know, for example that US law has separation of church and state."
- Jessica Kalled '13
"There are a lot of women in the Emirati government; that breaks down stereotypes about the Middle East."
- Marie Jones '14
"It was great to hear about the way scholars debate contemporary issues and keep Islam a relevant religion that develops over time." - Kimberly Drew '12
Below (from top to bottom): Film trailer made by 2012 conference participant Jessica Kalled '13 and reflections from 2011 conference participant Kenzi Green '13
Apply online! Choose a conference:
Past leadership conferences
March 22 - 31, 2011
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Read more information about the conference here.
Reflections from 2011 Insight Dubai participants
Elizabeth Johnson '11
Major: Studio Art
"At the conference I spent every free minute talking with the Dubai girls about their lives and using a mixture of my Modern Standard Arabic, fusha, the colloquial Levantine I picked up from my Palestinian friends in the Pioneer Valley and the Emirati slang I learned from the Dubai girls. . .
Even as I was able to make some overarching generalizations about my Emirati peers for the purpose of trying to understand their lives, I would meet another girl whose family had totally different rules and values and my useful, 'overarching observation' would be blown to bits. Thus, even as I found trends to cling to, I was constantly reminded that heterogeneity exists within even a rigidly defined society, and learned that the saying, 'everyone is different,' is just as true in the UAE as elsewhere."
Kenzi Green '13J
"We had tough discussions; I was asked some tough questions! We didn't stray away from those topics which are generally banned from the dinner table -- politics and religion. I was asked about my religious conversion experience; we talked about the Arab-Israeli conflict; and I spoke with women from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan about how they felt about America.
From an outsider's perspective, these questions might seem divisive, but I was surprised to find that these discussions actually brought us closer. My roommate at the conference was from India, and she mentioned that she had never met anyone from Pakistan. During the conference, she became very close with a group of Pakistani girls, and she admitted that she'd never expected to get along with someone from that country. Those intimate, challenging conversations not only forced us to examine our own biases, but also allowed us to bond with others more deeply."
Women's Education Worldwide Student Leadership Conference
June 6 - 10, 2011
Read more about the conference here.
Reflections from 2011 WEW Conference participants
Yasmine Evans '13
"While attending WEW, it was my first time going to Italy and I was very self conscious about not being 'that American.' Since I was a visitor stepping into a new environment, I wanted to keep a low profile and be modest. But given that I am 6-feet tall with non-European looks, that was nearly impossible. Everywhere I went people would stop and stare, not only at me, but also the group of 40 international women from countries ranging from India to Zimbabwe that made up the WEW conference. . .
While I was not a fluent Italian speaker, I tried my best to master basic phrases. By the end of the conference, I knew how to ask 'Where is the restroom?,' buy items ranging from clothing to gelato, engage in conversations about Italian music, and confirm my airplane tickets. After returning to the U.S. and bragging to my parents about my experience, I was certain in my ability to quickly adapt to new circumstances regardless of language or cultural differences."
Himani Aggarwal '12
"Among the many educational, intellectually stimulating, and fun experiences that Women’s Education Worldwide Conference 2011 offered, meeting Barbara Stefanelli of Corriere della Sera newspaper was definitely one of the most inspiring and moving events. Stefanelli is the first woman Deputy Director in the entire history of the daily newspaper, and hearing her speak was in itself highly motivating and humbling. She began her speech by giving us a brief history of women in journalism and how, slowly yet surely, she overcame the gender stereotypes and limitations women are subjected to when climbing the social ladder. Unlike in the past when women journalists were transferred to 'soft news' (i.e. cooking, gardening, fashion), these days there is a major transformation happening within the news world. In other words, the glass ceiling was a thing of the past.
Meeting Barbara Stefanelli was an eye-opening experience for me. Everything about this woman reflected her hard work and the possibility of a woman to achieve what she wants in life. When asked about how it feels to be a woman working in a world dominated by men, Barbara Stefanelli told us that her gender does not have a significant impact on her work. 'I just want to do what I do and be what I am,' said Stefanelli. Her humbleness highly influenced me and left me intense inner motivation that I have only occasionally experienced in my life. As I was leaving the headquarters, I felt overwhelmed (in a good way) with positive energy which has continued to resonate with me even today."
Rachel Smith '13
Major: American Studies
"One of the most meaningful connections I made was with a woman from India who was very passionate about journalism. We quickly bonded and have been in touch since the conference. Overall, just attending this conference pushed me outside of my comfort zone. It was my first time leaving the United States, but I was ready to embrace an unfamiliar environment and language. One new thought I’ve had since this conference is an even greater desire to follow what I am passionate about in life."
Karina Peterson '14
Major: History and
East Asian Studies
"One day, when touring the city of Pavia, we stopped to look inside the city's oldest cathedral. A girl from Dubai asked me to explain the scene depicted on the stain-glassed windows, as she was completely unfamiliar with saints and apostles. As a person of European descent living in the United States, this surprised me because one becomes so used to Judeo-Christian themes and imagery that one forgets that this knowledge is not universal. Later at dinner, she answered my questions about the hijab because I have never seen one worn with the fringe of the hair visible or paired with stilettos and flashy jewelry. . . In spite of all these differences, every participant agreed that women, as a whole, face challenges in education and job opportunities and that the playing field is still far from being equal."
CARE National Conference & International Women's Day Celebration
March 8 - 10, 2011
On March 8-10, 2011, more than 1,000 CARE supporters came together in Washington, D.C. to gain new perspectives on the issues facing poor women and girls, families and communities around the world. The gathering also marked the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day and CARE's 65th anniversary. Smith sponsored eight students to attend the conference, and selected one student to speak with President Christ on a panel called, "The Next Generation: Impact of Student Voices on Global Issues." Read more about the 2011 conference here.
Womensphere Emerging Leaders Global Summit
January 22, 2011
Urban Zen Foundation Center, New York City
On January 22, 2011, Womensphere hosted the 2011 Emerging Leaders Global Summit at the Urban Zen Foundation Center in New York City. The one-day conference brought together women leaders from the top companies in corporate America, as well as women from top undergraduate and graduate programs across the world. The summit focused on personal growth and connections, as well as on leadership development in young women's careers and in their communities. Five Smith students were selected to attend. Read more about the conference here.