By Teuta Peja—AFTER ONLY A FEW months of leaving Chicago “for good,” Fulbright alumna Shughla Hellali from Afghanistan returned to give a presentation at the South Asian Womanhood and Girlhood Conference (SAWG) at Loyola University Chicago (LUC), in October.
In this conference that addressed the topic of identities in transition with the aim to highlight the changing context of women and girls in South Asian society, Shughla discussed the rhetoric of epistemic violence against Afghan women caused by international media coverage and the limited understanding of the cultural and native context.
Shughla came to Chicago on a Fulbright Foreign Student grant in August 2014, to pursue an MA in Women’s and Gender Studies at Loyola University Chicago. After the completion of the program, she returned to Kabul, where she is now working as the Gender Specialist with United Nation Development Program. Recently, she became the Vice President of the Fulbright Association in Afghanistan.
This is her second visit to the US since her returned to Kabul in December 2015.
In February of this year, she traveled to Washington DC to attend several meetings on peace and security in Afghanistan. She and her colleagues at the Afghan Fulbright for Peace organized the meetings with the USIP, US State Department and the Afghanistan’s Embassy.
During her recent visit to Chicago, Shughla was experiencing different emotions because as she says “she was back to her home-away-from-home.”
She added: “I will always be grateful to Fulbright Program for giving me the life-changing experience that helped me frame my goals and develop professionally and personally. Knowing the values of the Fulbright Program, I am very excited to be part of the Fulbright Association in Afghanistan and lead the association. Through my work at the association, I am eager to contribute to the promotion of the Fulbright values and mission in the country and abroad.”
In addition to presenting her paper at SAWG Conference, in Chicago, Shughla also presented her work on “Ms. Representation: Media Portrayals of Afghan Women and the Epistemic Violence of International Intervention” to Loyola University academic staff and students.
Teuta Peja is a current Fulbright student from Kosovo.