Dec 13, 2013
Afghan Student Has Westover Classmates Skype With Kabul; Somalia Next
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Farahnaz may be the force behind Westover’s new outreach, but she has also experienced her own perception shifts. For example, “I didn’t know Russian people could be nice,” she says—until she personally encountered evidence of how misguided were the broad-brush portrayals in the media and commonly-held beliefs.
Westover says that in addition to the continuing Skype sessions, and possible school trips to attend culture fairs around the area, there will also be a Chapel Talk about Islam given by Farahnaz, who is entering the college application process, with Smith, Mt. Holyoke and Bates on her list.
Asked about her plans, Farahnaz says that since childhood she has planned to become a doctor—but that lately those plans have been called into question by her more global, focus-altering experiences.
Now, she says, “I would like to save a country,” which would mean returning to Afghanistan after college in a role that would allow her to effect positive and meaningful change.
Also as part of her efforts, on Nov. 9, Farahnaz shared aspects of Afghan culture with the Westover community, offering a kite-making workshop with students, faculty members, and their children, the school says. As part of the workshop, she decorated the Common Room with pillows and sheets on the floor in the Afghan style, had Afghan music, wore traditional Afghan clothing, and gave a slide show of her country. There was also authentic Afghan foods from a Hartford area restaurant and later they screened the film, "The Kite Runner", about life in Afghanistan before and during the Russian occupation on the 1980s.
The film is based on a 2003 novel by Afghan-American author Khaled Hosseini, and tells the story of a boy from Kabul, Amir, whose closest friend is his father’s young servant, Hassan.
The Westover students, Farahnaz says, didn’t know about the kite-making culture in Afghanistan.
But now they do, and next they will get a closer-to-the-truth view of Somalia and, hopefully, of more and more countries and cultures around the world, and these future leaders will go forward armed not with misperceptions but with the ammunition to build a greater good by advocating for a one-world, one-seamless-quilt approach to life—thanks in large part to Farahnaz Afaq.
Westover is a selective boarding and day school with 205 students in grades 9-12 from 17 states and 20 countries. The school offers its students more than 20 Advanced Placement courses as well as signature programs in science, engineering, art history, and music. To learn more, see the Westover website.