Jumpstarting International Education Week, high school students in Boston and Jalalabad used Skype technology to meet online and discuss teen life, culture and current events. At 8:00 a.m. EST on November 5 and again on November 12, staff and students at the Beaver County Day School, located in Brookline, Massachusetts, met via Skype a group of Jalalabad students participating in the Global Connections and Exchange (GCE) program of the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
In the first session, Afghan students asked about American holidays and U.S. schools while the Beaver County students wanted to know more about Afghan teen life, such as interaction between boys and girls, entertainment, and how Islam affects their daily lives. During the second call, the Beaver County students asked about the security situation in Afghanistan. This dynamic discussion lasted close to one hour and forty-five minutes. One Afghan student said that they see improvements in the education, health, and reconstruction sectors, particularly in the major cities. However, they can’t visit relatives or provide help to people living in villages because the Taliban poses a greater threat in those areas of the country.
Those were the first face-to-face conversations for youth in Jalalabad with U.S. peers. According to Almas Abdul Qaum, Afghanistan GCE Country Program Director, “[O]nline discussions will clear all misunderstanding between Afghan and American communities; we will have open minded community in which people will solve their political and social problems via joint discussions.” The teens will continue their discussions about Afghanistan and U.S. policy on the Beaver County blog.
The Global Connections and Exchange program in Jalalabad, implemented by the La Jolla Golden Triangle Rotary Club Foundation, provides youth with opportunities to meet American peers through Internet applications. In addition to the links with the Beaver County Day School, American students attending 14 San Diego schools meet up regularly with Jalalabad students through Facebook.