Think back to your elementary school math days. Remember Venn Diagrams? It is a visual representation of the relationship of information within two circles. The two circles intersect where the relationship is maximized and all the values between the two circles are aligned.
Our Circle – the Circle of Sisterhood – is committed to leveraging the collective wisdom and influence of sorority women to support entities around the world that remove educational barriers for girls and women, uplifting them from poverty and oppression.
Another Circle – the Circle of Women – is a non-profit organization which supports the self-sufficiency of indigenous Mixteca women in Oaxaca, Mexico by realizing social justice for women through self-reliance, raising consciousness of individual talents and skills, and enhancing cross-cultural relations.
Where do these two Circles intersect? They intersect where our values are aligned – where women are encouraged, barriers to education removed, and poverty confronted. We intersect where women help other women – with a Circle of Sisterhood grant to the Circle of Women.
This Circle of Sisterhood grant will support a program aimed at helping the indigenous Mixteca women in Oaxaca, Mexico, to become self-sufficient and empower them to build healthy and viable communities. A majority of the “Circle of Women” are coffee growers from the Mixtec region of Oaxaca, Mexico or come from coffee growing families. Seven out of ten adult women are illiterate. Illiteracy and gender inequality are the primary causes of economic and educational disadvantage.
The Circle of Women started a literacy program when women could not develop their business without learning to read and write. “Reading with all the Senses” is a bilingual literacy program based on drawing and oral expression. The initial group of thirty-six Mixtec women became, in two years, twenty-seven bilingual women. Participation in the program showed an increase in confidence and willingness to speak in front groups and take part in activities. The project is now being used with young girls and women in neighboring villages. The graduates have formed a book club which meets on a regular basis to keep up their skills.
The Circle of Sisterhood is providing funding for one new teacher, program supplies, and all needed teacher travel in this literacy program for one year.
Remember, a Venn Diagram is a visual representation of the relationship of information within two circles, and the two circles intersect where the relationship is maximized and all the values between the two circles are aligned.
The Circle of Women and the Circle of Sisterhood intersect at coffee. We intersect at reading, and book clubs, and the empowering influence of education. We intersect at women helping women. Whenever you drink coffee, whenever you read, think about the intersection of our Circles and even if the flashback to elementary school math makes you cringe, let the relationship between our Circles make you smile.
Beth Searcy is a volunteer for the Circle of Sisterhood, primarily in the Grants Division. She is the International President of Delta Gamma Fraternity and Assistant Dean of Academic Services and Strategic Initiatives at the University of Mary Washington. She resides in Fredericksburg, Virginia, where she drinks coffee, reads, and checks her kids’ math homework frequently.