Arielsela is a third year Global Health major who is dedicated to women’s issues at home and abroad. She has been chosen as student of the month because of her involvement with the UCSD Global Health Program and Vagina Monologues and her ability to empower women leaders!
1) For those of us who haven’t seen the show, what are The Vagina Monologues all about?
The Vagina Monologues is a production based off of a series of interviews conducted by Eve Ensler, who interviewed multiple womxn on their experiences regarding their bodies, womxnhood, and a variety of topics. Each monologue in the production represents an interview with a particular interviewee and speaks on a different topic (body hair, experiences of transgender womxn, giving birth, etc).
2) Why did you choose to be a director and what impact has this experience had on you? What do you hope the audience took away from the show?
I always tell a story about how when I first auditioned for The Vagina Monologues at UCSD, I barely knew what it was and had actually googled it right before I walked into the audition room! What I got out of it, though, was a surprise family. I got a group of womxn who empowered me to love and believe in myself and the power of my voice. I chose to become a director because not only did I want to give back to the community that gave so much to me, but I also wanted to expand it into a more dynamic and inclusive space, so that more people would be able to access it.
The biggest reward, though, is knowing that you get to have a positive impact on so many lives. Seeing members of the cast and crew grow so much through the experience, and carry that knowledge and power into their communities, is priceless. Seeing members of the audience rise with us against domestic violence and sexual assault, and having members of the audience take a stand against their own stories as survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence, is priceless. Seeing improvements in the production and the community of VagMo because of our work, is also very rewarding.
I hope that the audience was able to gain a sense of empowerment, a new perspective, and a desire to educate themselves further on topics discussed in the show and even beyond what was discussed.
3) The show focuses on female experiences – In your opinion, how do they connect to the field of global health?
The show does focus intensely on the dialogue surrounding womxn’s bodies from both a biological and political standpoint. Womxn’s bodies are heavily politicized, which greatly affects the way that global health as a structure can interact with issues surrounding them. In studying womxn’s health as a global issue, we are tasked with approaching health topics from numerous perspectives in order to create effective policies and interventions.
4) How would you describe the position of womxn in the field?
I think that women in the field of Global Health play a very dynamic role because the field has been historically dominated by men. I also believe that womxn in the field whose identities coincide with other marginalized communities, such as womxn of color or transgender womxn, hold a very unique position in being able to carry an intimate level of cultural literacy needed to do effective work in communities that global health often targets.
5) Which health issues would you consider as primarily women’s health?
In womxn’s health, I think that some of the key issues are those that concern structural violence, where those issues that are exasperated by disparities of health experienced by women of marginalized communities. Flaws in educational and political structures that further limit marginalized women from seeking autonomy over their bodies (ie, inadequate access to education leading to diminished health literacy, defunding of Planned Parenthood disproportionately impacting women of color, etc).
6) As a Global Health major, what issues interest you the most?
As a Global Health major, I am the most interested in anthropological and political concentrations, and merging the two as a tool to develop effective, culturally literate political structures. In terms of issues, I am the most interested in immigrant health, global interactions of ethnic minorities with their countries health care systems, and reproductive health of womxn and girls.