Last Sunday the Museum hosted fourteen women from Tunisia, who are in the United States as part of the Bush Institutes Women’s Initiative Program. Started by Laura Bush this program mentors women from the Middle East and helps them return to their countries and be a positive force for change. While in the US the women spend time at the Bush Institute as well as traveling around the country and visiting companies such as Google to learn about business and leadership. This is the fourth year of the program and each year their itineraries have also included a trip to the National Cowgirl Museum.
Each year when I greet the women I always tell them by the time they leave the Museum they will realize they are cowgirls. Inevitably they laugh and say no way! But as they tour the Museum and learn about the strong, independent, trailblazing women in the Museum they start to understand that being a cowgirl is not just about where you live, or wearing boots and a hat or riding a horse. It’s about doing what has to get done, standing up for what’s right, creating new paths. Each year the message that resonates loudest seems to be hearing Barbara Van Cleve say in the Spirit of the Cowgirl film, “my word is my honor”.
As we were saying goodbye on Sunday many of the women stopped to say “I am a cowgirl” with a big smile. The big lesson for me was once again realizing how powerful and empowering our story and that our message is so loud and strong it can be recognized by a group of women from half way around the world. These fourteen women will return to Tunisia with new knowledge and skills and with a very important super power….after a lesson from fabulous cowgirl singer Devon Dawson they can yodel!
Our tag line has never seemed so true….Women who shape the west change the world.