NOW's Web site succeeded in bringing Japanese student Itsuki Shinohara, show in the center, to the Action Center, where she works with Beth Corbin, left, and Sarah Stapleton-Gray. Photo by Melinda L. Shelton.
by Itsuki Shinohara,
http://www.now.org/ is not just a Web page. It is the history of feminism, of NOW, and it traces trends of the feminist movement. It sends a message that there is something we can do. It is the inner strength that pushes me to "take action" (as one part of the homepage reads) and keeps me going in a new world even when I feel like giving up.
And that address on the Internet labyrinth led this student to Washington, D.C., all the way from Japan.
I was in my junior year in the gerontology department at Ochanomizu University in Tokyo when I passed a test for a year-long scholarship to a business program in Seattle. I was very excited about this opportunity to study abroad, and it included a chance to have an internship.
"Internship" is not a word familiar to Japanese, but as a young feminist visiting NOW's Web page almost everyday, I had seen NOW's internship program advertised. It convinced me that being an intern at NOW could be a great experience for feminist leadership in the future.
It seemed as though it wouldn't ever happen, however, because the sponsoring bank went bankrupt! Luckily, the scholarship committee was a separate entity and made it possible for me to go to the U.S. to study business in Seattle, Wash.
Though my gerontology major is different from the purpose of the business program, it was not hard for me to make up my mind to go across the Pacific Ocean to study for months in Seattle -- with a possible internship at NOW in the back of my mind.
Before I had applied to be an intern at NOW, two women I respected urged me to go to NOW's Action Center. Margaret Murphy, who is my intern coordinator and a successful cross-cultural organizer, encouraged me from the U.S. Takako Sodei -- my respected professor of gerontology, who is also a founder of the Women's Group for the Better Aged Society -- encouraged me from Japan. Both sides of the Pacific were pulling me to Washington, D.C., even while I was in Seattle.
After nine months in Seattle, I made the decision to leave the business program and go to NOW as an intern.
NOW's Web page doesn't just give internship information. It also shows what NOW is thinking, what NOW is doing, how NOW is changing society and what one can do for NOW. I found this page by accident when I was searching the web using the keyword "feminism" and now my life -- and this business program -- is taking a very feminist route.
Now women activists whose names are on the Web sit next to me. I'm working with them, studying sexual harassment and welfare and editing NOW's Web page! My Action Center supervisors, Beth Corbin and Sarah Stapleton-Gray, not only give me a lot of knowledge and a chance to study, but support and guide me in my daily life here in the U.S.
As time passes, I feel how lucky I am to be working at NOW, and I'm sure innumerable feminist students all over the world who are in front of their computer screens are also eager to be interns at NOW. As NOW looks toward a new era of social reform, young feminists from all over the globe will want be to be a part of it -- either directly or through the Internet.
As for me, I have decided to stay on and attend the Young Feminist Summit in April so I may take even more information and feminist skills back to Japan when my visa expires.
For information on interning at NOW or attending the NOW Foundation's 1997 Young Feminist Summit, visit NOW's Web site at http://www.now.org/ or call 202-331-0066.
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