Student's experience abroad inspires fashion show
- Aurelia Spaulding
- Tuesday, April 16th, 2019
“I really just want to share my knowledge with people, and I want to them to gain motivation or inspiration or curiosity to go abroad and to see what the world is like because it's so much more than Bowling Green. It so much more than Kentucky,” said Tiye Gardner, a WKU senior and Honors student from Louisville.
During her four years as an undergraduate student, Gardner studied abroad in Argentina, Mexico and Costa Rica as part of her major in Spanish and minor in Citizenship & Social Justice.
“I think that studying abroad is so important when it comes to growing as a person, but also opening your mind to the world and to people,” Gardner said. “I think that a lot more of the issues that we have nowadays can be solved by just a simple realization that we are all people no matter skin color, no matter sexual orientation, and no matter gender. We are all people so I think studying abroad will really be an eye opener.”
Gardner explained that in each country her experience was different. The sharing of those experiences led to her research.
“I was explaining my experiences to my advisor for my honors thesis, and she made the comment ‘So you were dealing with racial hierarchy in Latin America,’ and that was correct.” From that conversation, Gardner decided to title her honors thesis, “Racial Hierarchies in Latin America that Affected My Black Experience.”
Gardner chose to showcase what she learned by coordinating the Black Lives Matter Fashion show taking place at 5 p.m. Wednesday (April 17) in Downing Student Union, room 3005. This is Gardner’s fifth time hosting a fashion show, but the first time hosting the fashion show inspired by her experience studying aboard.
“My study abroad experience impacted this event by me using my experiences abroad to inspire my pieces. I show my inspiration through the color and style of my pieces. Not necessarily are they specifically inspired by an exact experience or moment abroad, but it's all about how I have changed and evolved as a person,” Gardner said.
Leah Ashwill, director of the Center for Citizenship and Social Justice, advises Gardner on this project, which also counts as her capstone for the Citizenship & Social Justice minor. "It is just a phenomenal culminating student engagement experience drawing from so many of the applied learning opportunities she has sought in and out of the classroom during her time here at WKU,” Ashwill said.
According to Gardner, the fashion show is about the appreciation for black culture and art. “I want them (attendees) to enjoy the fashion, but I also want to talk about my honors thesis and make a call to action, specifically to people of color,” Gardner said. “The first thing is to ask them to study abroad. I want to provide information about studying abroad and scholarships. Another take away from this event is that I want to talk about my research and what I experienced abroad and why it is important to appreciate black culture and art.”
Gardner shared that the pieces in the fashion show come from individuals from different racial backgrounds and how important it is to bring people together.
“Tiye is truly a gifted public scholar and activist. She will change lives for the better no matter where she lands after graduation and throughout her life. I look forward to watching her soar," Ashwill added.