Last Thursday Empowered Women International (EWI) held a graduation ceremony for the students in the Training for Success Program which honored eight graduates from the class of 2008 and seven additional alumni.
Training for Success is a 10 week program started by Romanian native and award-winning journalist Marga Fripp, who also serves as president. The program gives immigrants who want to pursue a career in the arts an opportunity to find a voice in their community and earn an income.
The ceremony featured over 70 different works of art ranging from jewelry to pictures, from scarves to books. Included with each work of art presented was an inspiring story of immigration.
This program has changed my life completely now the skys the limit, exclaimed Carmen Dupuy, a Venezuelan artist.
Sushmita Mazundar, an immigrant from India, began writing books for her son after he asked her about life in India. The program allows her to develop a series of books that is divided into her native tongue as well as English to give children the opportunity to learn another language.
She also has a Web Site to accompany the books that orally pronounces words, teaching children to speak Hindi, Bengali and Chinese. In addition she designed a blank book for children to write stories about their own lives.
Kids dont know their parents, only Harry Potter, Mazundar said.
She started writing these books in the basement of her house but after finishing this program, she feels that she is able to market the books as a business woman.
Another artist, Isabel Castaneda, came to America 16 years ago from Lima, Peru. The first painting she composed, Honduran Girl won her recognition by Northern Virginia Community College.
I had never touched a canvas prior to this piece. This was my first one. Castaneda said.
While accepting her certificate in completion of the program, she said that, she feels America is a welcoming nation and believes thats how other immigrants must feel. One of her own pieces America’s Great Commission displays this emotion.
A Venezuelan jeweler, Clemencia Ronan, shared during the ceremony, that she feels this program made her more personable. I used to be shy but it has given me self-confidence, she said. She chatted with many guests showing no lack of self confidence.
I feel so warm! exclaimed Liberian/Malian jeweler Louis Jr. Sangare-King with a grin as he walked away from receiving his award.
Fripp began the organization in 2002, a year after she immigrated here. She came to America on September 20, 2001, just nine days after 9/11. She felt that though she was an established journalist, she needed to prove herself. She began taking English classes at a local college. Her class had over 70 other students, mostly women. Though they were accomplished women, Fripp felt they meant nothing to anyone during this time because of the state America was in and because they were not yet established, in America.
She noticed them using their hands to create things. She inquired whether they would be able to sell their products. This sparked the idea to create the program.
Being a proper journalist Fripp began asking questions to each woman to learn the stories of their past. She saw the value in each person and began providing classes for them in the community.
I wanted to give them a voice, she explains.
The future holds plenty for this organization. They plan on restructuring the program and soon will have artist present business proposals that show what personal economic and community impact their product would provide. The organization will then provide a grant for them to make it happen. They will be required to go through the Entrepreneurial Training for Success course in order to accomplish this.
Fripp enlightens, Were a tiny organization taking on the world.
To find out more about the Entrepreneurial Training for Success course, visit www.ewint.org.