Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

View of the city of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Story and photos by: Kelsey McKeon

Third Year Women Girls and Global Justice intern Kelsey McKeon describes her experiences living in the Middle East for her intern project as a part of the Women’s Center’s International Women’s Month.

As the oldest child of a State Department diplomat, moving has been a defining part of my upbringing.

I was fortunate enough to finish out high school in Stockholm, Sweden, where my family was stationed from 2009 until the summer of 2012. After spending more than half of my 18 years of life in four different countries, I knew a move was coming, and that our third and final year in Stockholm was coming to a close.

But I did not think that the move would be to Riyadh, the capital of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. I had only dabbled in transnational feminism while in high school, and though I had never studied the Middle East I knew that the Kingdom was notorious for their strict and oppressive treatment of women, more so than any other country in the region. I knew that after living in Stockholm, a European capital known around the world for its social liberalism and subzero temperatures, that moving to Saudi Arabia’s desert capital would be a very pronounced change.

However, being afflicted with a severe case of senioritis and convinced that this move would hardly affect me, I said goodbye to my family in August 2012 when they dropped me off here at U.V.a. and left for Riyadh. After a difficult first semester transitioning into college life with my parents halfway across the world, I boarded the plane home for winter break feeling excited to see my family but also nervous to experience a culture unlike anything I had ever known before.

Now, three years later, my family has returned to the Washington D.C. area, and leaving Riyadh has been a great cause for reflection on how my time there has impacted me, both in my academics as a Middle Eastern Studies major and in my involvements and interactions with others here at the University. Here’s what I feel I have learned, summarized in the following four points.


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Story by: Alaina Segura

Iris Magazine will host a “Celebration for Women in STEM,” co-sponsored by the U.Va. Parents Committee and the Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center. The event will take place in the Commonwealth Room of Newcomb Hall on the Grounds of the University of Virginia from 4-6 p.m. on Wednesday, April 1.

Last February, Iris held a similar event celebrating the achievements of women in the Darden i.Lab program, whose focus is to provide education and support for new entrepreneurs. The staff of Iris was so thrilled with the dialogue at this event that they decided to host another similar event in order to continue conversations about the rewards and challenges of working in a male-dominated field.

Amy LaViers, Kim Wilkens and Pam Norris, three women from the Charlottesville area, will be speaking about their experiences working in STEM.

You do not need to be a science or math major to enjoy this celebration!  The event is open to anyone with an interest in the STEM fields, so join us to learn more about the accomplishments of these women in our community.  Appetizers will also be served, so no one will leave hungry!

All guests should RSVP to Agnes Filipowski, Women’s Center Communications Assistant / Iris Magazine Editor, at abf4u@virginia.edu ASAP.


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Story by: Kendall Siewert

I get it – women don’t like to talk about their vaginas. I’m hardly the first person to realize this silence. Eve Ensler lamented it when she compiled The Vagina Monologues almost 20 years ago, and I’m lamenting it today. So let’s talk about it now.

Here are five reasons why all college women should absolutely see a gynecologist based on U.Va.’s Student Health website, and I promise I will not use the term “sexually active” once in this article.


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U.Va. Women's Center 2011

Photo courtesy of Betsy Graves Henderson
Women’s Center 2010-2011 Intern and Staff Team
(Taken May 2011 – Betsy is second from right, first row)

Story by: Sammy Scheman

In honor of the beginning of International Women’s Month in March at the Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center, Iris Magazine has interviewed a former intern in International Initiatives (now called the Women, Girls and Global Justice program) from the Center to showcase what she is doing now.


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Story by: Alaina Segura

Barbara Nordin

Photo courtesy of Barbara Nordin

During the month of February, African American History Month, we, as a nation, celebrate the accomplishments of black men and women and reflect upon the continuing struggle for equal opportunity in our country.

At Iris, we decided to take a look at the history of these struggles in our local community by interviewing a journalist for The Hook, Barbara Nordin.

When Nordin was volunteering at the Cedars nursing home in 2013, she heard a story that piqued her curiosity, and she set out to learn more. Later that year, she published an article in which she tells the story of Charlottesville native Eugene Williams as he recounts his experience growing up during the 1930s.

Iris had the opportunity to interview Nordin and discuss this piece, as it remains relevant during African American History Month.


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