A former student of mine in Intro to Comparative Politics has sent me a link to a story on a high school student in New Jersey, who also happens to be an Afghani immigrant and the captain of Afghanistan’s women’s national soccer team. Her story is fascinating and mirrors that of my former student and other young Afghani women who have overcome tremendous obstacles to pursue their educational dreams here in the United States and other western countries. From the article:
BLAIRSTOWN, N.J. — In world religion class, Shamila Kohestani is neither the adolescent who defied the Taliban in Afghanistan nor the symbol of liberation that shared the stage with stars from Hollywood and sports at the 2006 ESPY Awards. She is a teenager whose lips move as she takes notes, and whose list of words to look up grows exponentially each minute, each hour and each day.
Some of her classmates at Blair Academy here know that Kohestani, 19, is the captain of the Afghanistan national women’s soccer team. Some are aware that she is Muslim. Most know her only as the striking young woman who is eager to stock her iPod with any kind of music they recommend.
Until recently, they had no idea of what Kohestani has already endured in her short life. The music that some of them take for granted is a luxury to her; the classwork they grumble about is a privilege…
…When the Taliban ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, Kohestani and her six sisters were virtually confined to their small home in Kabul. They were not allowed to attend school or work, and when they appeared in public, they had to be covered in a burqa.