07 February 2009

Student unveils one of countless Afghan tales

I got into my classroom a little early Thursday to set up a presentation using a new video projector, which had only installed one day earlier. One of my students, a young woman, perhaps 19 or 20, was seated by herself and we began talking. I complimented her English and asked if she had spent any time in States. Yes, she said, at a summer camp in Maine operated by Seeds of Peace, an NGO “dedicated to empowering young leaders from regions of conflict with the leadership skills required to advance reconciliation and coexistence,” according to its website.

She was originally from one of the rural provinces and lived with about 25 young women in the female dormitory, which she likened to her family. How so? I asked. She haltingly explained, tears welling in her eyes, that her decision to pursue an education meant her extended family, including her parents, had rejected her and cut off all support.

When I was interviewed for this position I was told every student I will encounter will have a compelling story. No one, no family, has been untouched by the last three decades of civil war and chaos. A colleague, born in Afghanistan but educated in Europe, said he was surprised by the success of The Kite Runner, the international bestseller by Khaled Hosseini and later a film, because its was such an ordinary story in Afghanistan.