media release

Student to share India experience at Diwali gala

November 02, 2012

Jennifer Ganapathy,
Marianne Meadahl, PAMR, 778.782.9017;


Jennifer Ganapathy, a Simon Fraser University sociology student who spent a six-month co-op internship in India working with the South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring (SICHREM), will share her experiences at SFU’s Diwali Gala on Nov. 8.

Proceeds from the fifth annual gala, which takes place at Surrey’s Crown Palace Banquet Hall, go to fund SFU’s student mobility awards, which allow students to gain experience by working and volunteering in India.

Ganapathy initially went to India to research the labour challenges facing female domestic workers and the experience left her wanting to do more.

She approached the SFU Student International Mobility Fund and the Hari Sharma Foundation for financing and returned to India earlier this year to launch Project SEPIA (Social Engagement Plan in Action).

She spent eight weeks working with local organizations to mount a pilot series of community deliberative dialogues addressing gender, labour and education issues.

Her goal: to find out if the women would benefit from the dialogues, and to discover what kinds of issues they wanted to address.

Currently, five groups of 12-15 women meet monthly to address themes of the dialogue program. Over the next three months, 10 of the women will be invited to take part in a leadership-training program.

They’ll become facilitators using a curriculum that will incorporate adult learning techniques, group activities and dialogue.

After the training, the women will take over their groups and begin to facilitate, under supervision, two meetings each over eight weeks, until they are comfortable leading their groups.

“This will make a long-term difference as they become confident as leaders and in reaching out to their network to support their goals as a group,” says Ganapathy.

The project’s aim is to increase women’s leadership and community building to help bring out into the open the “silence” about domestic violence, sexual abuse, assault, and rape, she adds.

For more about Ganapathy’s ongoing community engagement work in India visit

Simon Fraser University is Canada's top-ranked comprehensive university and one of the top 50 universities in the world under 50 years old. With campuses in Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey, B.C., SFU engages actively with the community in its research and teaching, delivers almost 150 programs to more than 30,000 students, and has more than 120,000 alumni in 130 countries.


Simon Fraser University: Engaging Students. Engaging Research. Engaging Communities.

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