"Ignorance is not bliss, but the freedom to live without fear is."

When people look at me they are quick to assume that this small little girl isn’t much of anything and because I am small they quickly correlate my physical characteristics to me being weak and helpless. Some people think that because I am a girl I can’t be stronger, faster or smarter than my male counterpart. Imagine what it is like to be told all your life “you can’t do this because you’re a girl.” Well that is the stupidest thing I have ever heard and frankly, it has never been a good excuse. Seeing more and more people fighting for their right to education, health care and jobs, and the fact that many are voicing their support for gender equality and freedom for all human beings to exercise their right to liberty and happiness, makes me excited and even more fiercely determined to fight this backward way of thinking.

My family hails from a country like many others. India has beauty, diverse cultures, lively music, dance and the most amazing food you will ever taste. But we also have peaceful fighters, a growing democracy, a sense of community and hospitality, intelligent and determined innovators, child sex trafficking, honor killings and acid burn victims. When children are kept from school because they need to earn money for their family, they lose a chance to further themselves and leave the poverty behind, and the world suffers.  When acid is thrown on a young girl’s face by a revengeful admirer or family member who has tried to force her into doing something she doesn’t want to do, the world suffers. When the people who are supposed to be fighting for us believe that “We have the best culture. In our culture, there is no place for a woman,” the world suffers.

I joined the Aahana team, especially the Speaker Series division, as a way to fight these heinous ways of thought. I believe that education is the most important tool we have to eradicate the ignorance and idiocy we see in our daily lives. Everyone has the right to live without fear and I hope to be a part of the positive change that makes that happen.

The panel discussions we organize through the Speaker Series gives people a chance to become active agents of change. We challenge conventional thinking, and strive to encourage discussion that will incite the humanist in all of us.  In line with Aahana's core value of shedding light on issues we are sheltered from, our Speaker Series event won't just cover the progress of research and medical advances, but it will touch on the mental illnesses and psychological hardships that come with HIV/AIDS as well. A link many people are unaware of, we're working with our partner organization, GlobeMed at the University of Pennsylvania, as well as our featured industry experts to help educate others on the far reaches of the disease. 

Join us for this exciting opportunity to learn more about HIV/AIDS, Aahana, and the chance to network with industry professionals and experts. The Angles of Awareness Speaker Series: Combating HIV/AIDS, is on April 1st from 6-9PM at The University of Pennsylvania's Huntsman Hall at 3730 Walnut Street. For more information on the event: http://bit.ly/1HwhkkF

Ignorance is not bliss, but the freedom to live without fear is.

Stacey Thomas - Aahana Speaker Series Director 

Stacey Thomas - Aahana Speaker Series Director