News about the foundation, girls' education, and women's rights in Afghanistan
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In the early morning hours on a recent Tuesday, Members of the Girls Learn International Club at Sharon Middle School participated in their third videoconference with students at the Zabuli Education Center. Razia’s Ray of Hope Foundation and the Global Nomads group provided equipment to connect students in Afghanistan with students in Sharon, Massachusetts, via video and audio conferencing, to build an ongoing relationship.
Students are able to ask questions and discuss ideas with their peers on the other side of the globe. This is a golden opportunity for the students in both Afghanistan and the United States to learn about their shared experiences, as well as their differences. For the students in Sharon, learning about the difficulties girls in Afghanistan face on the road to education is eye-opening. Rachel, a sixth grader at Sharon Middle School, explained, “It gives you a real appreciation for what they’ve experienced.”
Another Sharon Middle School student noted, “I think in our country we kind of take school for granted a little bit and the fact that they couldn’t go to school and that they work so hard to go to school means a lot more than just going to school because we have to.”
The program requires students in both countries to identify a social issue and develop an awareness campaign around this subject matter. Students at Sharon Middle School are focusing on girls’ education. They hosted a movie night featuring the documentary Girls Rising and donated funds raised to the Zabuli Education Center. Students at the Zabuli Education Center are focusing on the damage caused to communities by drug addiction. In addition to creating posters, they also gave a presentation at a local mosque run by the father of a student at the Zabuli Education Center.
Although Sharon, Massachusetts, and Deh’Subz, Afghanistan, might not have much in common, the students themselves do have some common experiences and interests. “As different as Afghanistan is from Sharon, I think that they have similarities whether it’s through music or art or reading,” said teacher Laura Smolcha.
Jackie Mann, the assistant principal at Sharon Middle School, thought that the experience was one of the highlights of her year. “I feel so very grateful that our students have this unique opportunity to connect with the girls in Afghanistan. Laura and I expect that this experience will leave a lasting impression on our girls and will propel them to continue making these authentic connections through their lives,” she said.
Started in 2011, Global Citizens in Action (GCA) is a civic engagement program that connects students and educators in Central and South Asia and the US through a dynamic curriculum on cultural exchange, media literacy, and global citizenship. Run by Global Nomads Group (GNG) in partnership with School of Leadership Afghanistan (SOLA) and Peace Education and Community Empowerment (PEACE, in Pakistan), GCA pairs classrooms in the US with classrooms in Afghanistan and Pakistan for one academic year. GCA builds cultural awareness and global citizenship through investigation of the driving question, “How do we, as youth, engage our communities to create positive social change?” Throughout the program, students engage in intercultural dialogue, explore media bias, utilize technology, and learn how to communicate and share ideas across cultures. By equipping students with these critical 21st century learning skills, GCA fosters leadership and motivation for youth take positive action in their local and global communities. The 2013-2014 GCA program connects 26 groups of students and educators in communities across the US, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
The Sharon Middle School/Zabuli Education Center videoconferencing project story was featured on CBS: