I had a strong connection to Afghanistan from when I was a young Peace Corps volunteer there and, through connections to Afghan students here, thought I understood what it means to grow up female and Afghan. Over the last eight months of frequent, lengthy conversations with female students at School of Leadership Afghanistan, I have come closer to seeing the full picture. Some of our Skype sessions are full of humor and culture swapping, others full of anger and sadness at the intolerance and inequality. We laugh at the irony of Afghan students’ being encouraged to watch Hollywood movies to improve their English and of all the misconceptions about life in the U.S. they imbibe at the same time. We bemoan the discrimination and doors closed by virtue of being female. The assumption that girls have no need for education beyond basic literacy and the fear that more would cause them to question their faith haunt their dreams for higher education.

Demonstration for Women, Kabul

Demonstration for Women, Kabul

Isolation and oppression feed determination for contact with a larger world among bright young Afghans women. Such determination is demanding and at time I feel overwhelmed with the need to connect through me with that world. Yet, they will carry the light leading theirs and future generations of Afghans to a better future. How privileged to have a tiny part in this revolution.