WellesleyWeston Magazine

FALL 2018

Launched in 2005, WellesleyWeston Magazine is a quarterly publication tailored to Wellesley and Weston residents and edited to enrich the experience of living in two of Massachusetts' most desirable communities.

Issue link: https://wellesleywestonmagazine.epubxp.com/i/1011917

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released in May. I am currently at work on a collection of connected short stories about a fictional farming family in Cambodia, where I've spent a lot of time over the past 12 years. WWM: Speaking of Cambodia, in 2003, you founded the Harpswell Foundation, a nonprofit with a mission to "advance a new generation of women leaders in Southeast Asia." Can you tell us about the pro- gram and how Wellesley College students have been participating? AL: The foundation provides dormitories, food, and medical care for very bright young women while they're attending universities in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, where most schools are located. We also have an in-house academic program that the students take in the eve- nings and weekends that places emphasis on critical thinking and leader- ship, as well as English, and is equivalent to second university education. Wellesley College students have participated as summer "leadership resi- dents," which are young women from beyond Cambodia with cultural awareness who live in our facilities in Phnom Penh for two to six months, mentor our Cambodian students, share personal experiences with them, and help teach our core program. Over the last 12 years or so, we have had about 100 leadership residents, from all over the world. Recently, we started a new program that is based in Malaysia, which is an intensive two-week program each summer in leadership and critical thinking for young professional women from all the 10 countries of Southeast Asia. I teach in the program myself and am going again this June. I thought it was time to expand the foundation's territory beyond Cambodia. WWM: You've been a strong proponent of women in science. Can you expand on this? AL: I've written about women in science in my book The Discoveries (Pantheon Books, 2005), and I worked with my colleagues at MIT to es- tablish a scholarship for graduate students that is awarded only to wom- en. I also gave a talk about Harpswell and women leaders at the Women in Public Service Program at Wellesley College. I am sensitive to the is- sue. I feel that from a very young age in elementary school, boys receive more encouragement in the sciences than do girls. If I had more time, I would devote myself to changing education at the elementary level. It's time to stop treating women and girls as lesser beings. All the work of the Harpswell Foundation is devoted to advancing women. Alan Lightman on the novel: "What is powerful about a novel is that the reader brings her own individual life experience to the reading. A good novel is not completed until it is read by a reader, and every reader completes the novel in a different way." 70 W e l l e s l e y W e s t o n M a g a z i n e | f a l l 2 0 1 8 an interview with alan lightman

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