Girls education = hope

Today’s class at SOLA was on culture. We did a cross cultural simulation. Three culture groups form the basis of the simulation, red, green and blue, and each culture has its own rules. I had asked the girls to come dressed in either red, blue or green clothes, equally divided. It was a colorful gathering at the start of the class.

We talked about culture and then each culture group got used to its rules of behavior: analytic, reserved and distant greens, loud, impatient and active reds, and harmonious close knit blues. In the groups they had to construct a tower out of straws, cupcake holders, bamboo skewers, pipe cleaners, chocolates and candy; after a while I started to move people from one culture into another, then we watched what happened; then more moves.

The girls reflected on what it was like to move into another culture where they were not wanted and related that to their own experiences of leaving a place of comfort for one of discomfort.

I had invited an Afghan family I am quite close to to come along, a father and his two daughters. The father is a journalists and works in the parliament. He was so happy to see these confident girls, learning to become leaders in an Afghanistan that some don’t think is possible (but we think it is); he offered to take them on a tour of the parliament one day. Two of the girls want to become journalists and were happy to talk shop with him.

Afterwards we visited my friend Baba Ted who was celebrating his 70-something birthday with four candles: one for SOLA, one for an new venture to get European and American companies to license Afghans to manufacture their products and sell in the region, one for an organization called Chera Ne (Why not?) that will do things people think impossible and the fourth one an environmental organization in Bamiyan – the best part of all these ventures is that they will all be led by young well educated Afghan women.

My Afghan family invited me to a mantou lunch; by the time I arrived the whole family was involved in making the Afghan dumplings, with dad preparing the thin sheets of pasta using an Italian pasta maker mounted on a filing cabinet placed in the middle of the living room. It was quite a production. A large triple decker steamer barely held the large quantity of mantous; I couldn’t imagine we would eat them all. Soon I discovered that Afghans can eat enormous amounts of dumplings and the supply was soon exhausted.

After lunch we watched a video of the celebration offered to honor boys 40 days after their birth, the family’s first grandchild. Girls don’t get to have such celebrations. But luckily, in this family with two girls and one boy, girls are treated alike with boys and their education is as important.

In the evening I brought three of my newer housemates to Razia’s house for another evening of great conversation and interesting people and good food. We watched Razia on the 2012 CNN heroes celebration in LA and checked out her new children’s book (Razia’s Ray of Hope); so this day was all about bringing out confidence in girls and then letting them change the world for the better. Yeah for SOLA, yeah for the Zabuli school for girls!

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