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VTC connects students in the US and Afghanistan

January 19, 2011 - 0 Comments

Some countries have seen a fair share of war, political instability and changes in leadership. Very few have seen the problems and hardships that Afghanistan has seen.

The country’s location along major trade routes has lead to it being conquered on many occasions and by many different empires. From the empires of Persia and Macedonia, to modern day powers like Britain and Russia, Afghanistan has had claim staked to it by many different parties.

It was the last of these parties, an Islamic group called the Taliban, that took power in the late 1990’s and into the 21st century, that shaped Afghanistan into the nation that many Americans think of when the country’s name is spoken today. They destroyed ancient Buddhist statues and other cultural artifacts in the country that they felt were blasphemous or un-Islamic. They also greatly discouraged education, especially the education of women, due to their fundamentalist views.

Now, with the Taliban no longer in control of the majority of the country and a new government in place, Afghanistan is looking to rebuild and establish a democratic system complete with educational opportunities and social services for its citizens. It’s slow going in many parts of the country, however, due to cultural roadblocks towards educating children, especially women.

In an effort to show a different culture to people in Afghanistan, one where education of both male and female students is the accepted norm, schools in the US are using video teleconferencing (VTC) to have their students interact with students in Afghanistan.

According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, Students from the private Windward School in West Los Angeles have been interacting with students from the all-male Kodola Drab School.

The Kodola Drab School is in the Garmsir district of southern Afghanistan, in Helmand province, which was previously ruled by the Taliban. The Garmsir district has been the focal point of school rebuilding and restoration projects by US soldiers looking to undo the damage done by the Taliban and bring education back to Afghanistan’s children.

The VTC connection between Windward and Kodola is opening a window and bringing students an unparalleled education opportunity to see what life is like for people in very different cultures and parts of the world. It’s also allowing students in Afghanistan to experience a culture where education is a prized and accepted part of life for all children.

The Windward School will be following up their VTC sessions with the Kodola Drab School by filling and sending book bags with supplies to help the students learn. These will most definitely be appreciated in a region where people are often without electricity, telephones or running water.

Afghanistan is a nation with a rich culture and a complicated past. By breaking down the walls that separate the US and Afghanistan, VTC is creating unique educational opportunities for students in both countries and providing a model for equal education that Afghanistan can work towards in the future.

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