Rutgers SSW Ph.D. candidate, Hsiu-Fen Lin, first learned of the Rutgers International Women's Group (IWG) on a flyer in her apartment's laundry room. Since then, Lin has become a Residence Life Assistant which makes her a leader for the family housing community. She was recently awarded a Rutgers Diversity Innovation Grant to tell the stories of her IWG peers—the women and families that make up this group.
Founded in 1988, the Rutgers IWG is a volunteer organization that provides international women, who are new to the U.S. and to Rutgers campus, a place to adjust to their new life away from home, and to learn, listen, and speak English. Membership is open to all international women, and the current members come from Iraq, Pakistan, India, South Korea, and Taiwan. The meetings also provide opportunities to gain insights into a diverse array of cultures through cooking, craft, and other program topics.
"I first interviewed women from IWG for a qualitative research paper in my PhD program at the SSW. It was published in 2018 and entitled 'The “Invisible” Group: Acculturation of International Women Partners on United States Campuses'," Lin said. "Most of IWG members and their children live in family housing on campus because their husbands’ study at the University." Lin explains. Some of the women, like Lin, are PhD candidates themselves, struggling with academic and parenting responsibility. Lin also shares, “Life can be difficult to adjust to an entirely new and different culture as the international families have been uprooted from their native lands.“
The Diversity Innovation Grant will allow Lin to publish the e-book, Pathfinders, which is planned to be released this fall. The publication invited IWG members to write their stories in English which for most is their second language. The book contains personal short stories, advice for their younger selves and family recipes. The purpose of Pathfinders is to empower women to overcome language barriers and embrace cultural differences. Lin’s own artwork will also be featured on the cover and serves as a means to allow members to relate their experiences.
Lin, whose PhD dissertation focuses on violence against women, financial intervention, and mental health, finds connections between her career and leadership of the group. In the past, she had initiated programs for the October Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Her work with IWG is a direct outcome of her professional involvement and academic research. Lin’s commitment to gender equality is seen in everything she does.