Westminster College hosts Maldivian political, environmental icon

Mar 20, 2013

Westminster College in Fulton, Mo. is hosting international alum, Shauna Aminath this week. She will share her experiences as a political and environmental icon during her first visit back to the school since 2008.

Aminath has been busy in the five years since her graduation from Westminster. She became an integral component in the election of the first Democratic political party in her home country of the Maldives, an island nation located to the south of India.

“We have a successful story of democracy in an Islamic country in the middle of the Indian Ocean and we have a proven method of how to win it, I mean against a dictatorship that was there for 30 years.”

After the democratic election, she became a member of President, Evan Naseem’s cabinet, where she gained international attention for raising awareness of climate change, a pressing issue for the low-lying country. The Maldivian Democratic Party was ousted by a coup on February 7, and Aminath has been active in the attempts to reinstate it since then.

“Getting rid of a dictator might be successful, but getting rid of a dictatorship is a completely different thing.”

She was invited back to the school to be a participant in the Global Leader in Residence program. Dr. Bob Hansen is the Executive Director of the Emerson Center at Westminster and says Aminath is planning to stay six days in the hopes that students can develop a deeper connection with her message.

“Instead of inviting speakers to come in to do one talk and then they leave to go do another talk on another campus, we say, ‘Come and be in residence, come and be a part of our community for as many days as you can spend.’”

Aminath will be at the Westminster campus until Mar. 22. She says she will face criminal charges when she returns to the Maldives due to an arrest during a political protest days before the coup in February.