IVLP Impact: This Bridge Called Woman Book Collaboration

It’s international Women’s History Month and we’ve seen a lot of beautiful stories reflecting on the global impact of female voices and actions. In 2019, through an IVLP exchange, Global Ties Sacramento was honored to connect a group of female writers and artists from Uganda and the United States. The meeting inspired an impressive collaboration over the next several years and resulted in a book.

In late 2022, This Bridge Called Woman (Bridge), a cross-cultural anthology, was published through the passion and perseverance of over 60 women writers and artists from Uganda and the United States. This book “contains deeply rich life stories of women who have made significant contributions to improving the lives of other women,” writes co-author Dr. Euzobia Mugisha Baine. We applaud and highlight the story of these women and share, below, how they defied the odds to connect across oceans.

The global experience in December 2019 was unique. We just didn’t know it yet.

Ignorantly poised on that historic precipice ahead of 2020, most people from each corner of the world went about their relatively independent, often culturally siloed lives.

Five women intentionally chose connection instead. Women’s Wisdom Art (WWA) Chair Ali Tucker Lichtenstein, board members Vicki Boyd and Yvonne Evans, with Kim Todd of Global Ties Sacramento, hosted visiting creators Hilda Twongyeirwe and Regina Asinde of the Uganda Women Writers’ Association, FEMRITE, in California’s capitol.

“We were eager to learn more about this incredible organization and the women leading it,” shares Lichtenstein, on the easy decision to host the pair of visiting writers in late 2019. Both groups prioritize the amplification of female voices through creative arts. Through the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), they gathered in Sacramento to connect and exchange experiences; sharing both tough realities and beautiful opportunities along the artistic path. “Time flew as we discussed our specific and shared challenges, philosophies, and successes. The comradery was instantaneous and palpable,” notes Lichtenstein. For the FEMRITE participants, meetings with WWA “felt like home. By the time we left… we were thinking about what we could do together,” notes Twongyeirwe.

It was that mutual respect and authentic connection that prompted Lichtenstein and Twongyeirwe to remain in contact after their Global Ties exchange in Sacramento… and throughout what turned into the international trials of the COVID pandemic.

“We wanted a platform for collective stories that would move women from the unknown to the known. We wanted stories that would build solidarity among women and listening to one another from across cultures seemed such an important way of doing this.”

– Hilda Twongyeirwe

Lichtenstein notes that the 2019 IVLP group “was a meeting of unique personalities and shared missions with women—their voices, their words, and their lives—as the focus.” The strong urge to maintain those ties launched Lichtenstein, Twongyeirwe, and Asinde on the path of collecting contributors and publishing the Bridge anthology. The writers were working with their international counterparts during the “traumatic times of COVID-19 and so connecting… across the oceans was quite challenging,” shared Asinde.

Their book project was rife with challenges from the start. Twongyeirwe wondered if collaborative writing between women of “different backgrounds, different languages, different time zones, different cyber space, different internet speeds, different IT skills… different this, different that…” would really be possible. She strongly advocated for the “cross-writing” approach seen in the final book, in which each featured author interviews and writes about an international counterpart’s life experience. She believed “it would be the best way for the women to connect at a deeper level across cultures.”

And this is where the story wraps back around to the heart of what Global Ties Sacramento values, promotes, and offers. This collection of women took the seed offered through an IVLP exchange program in Sacramento, California and planted a tree with roots spread across two continents, now bearing fruit in the form of a published book.

Twongyeirwe is adamant, “[t]he visit to Uganda has not materialized but it will!”

Learn how you can get involved with our international exchange programs.