Afghan women receive specialized training at KSU

Kennesaw State University was one of only three universities in the nation to host a delegation of Afghan women during a recent visit to the United States. They came seeking ways to improve the lives of the people in their war−torn homeland.

Georgia (Nov 11, 2002) — "At the heart of a university is understanding diversity and international issues‚ so we see opportunities in this to make strong connections with people who are very different from us so we can build strong alliances and friendships‚" Kennesaw State Vice President for Academic Affairs Lendley Black said in his opening remarks welcoming four Afghan women to KSU Sept. 30.



The women — all midlevel managers in various Afghan government ministries — spent two weeks at KSU’s Division of Continuing Education improving their English and computer skills and learning how to write funding proposals for much−needed international aid. The group also exchanged ideas with educators‚ community leaders and government officials‚ and visited local schools.



"This project was a tremendous success and touched the lives‚ personally and professionally‚ of everyone involved‚" Dean of Continuing Education Barbara Calhoun said. "This was our opportunity to make a real impact on the lives of women in Afghanistan‚ and thanks to the collaborative efforts of the KSU community‚ we were able to create a unique two−week program that exceeded all of our expectations‚ including the delegates‚ and gave these women tools they will bring home and use to make a difference in their communities."



More than two decades of civil strife and war have "devastated" the Afghan educational system‚ according to Alina Rassi‚ who‚ in an interview with a local newspaper reporter‚ estimated that only 2 percent of Afghans are educated. Rassi is a journalist with the Office of the Prime Minister.



"Even before the war‚ women in the rural areas of Afghanistan were not going to school‚ and schools that were in the cities have been destroyed‚" she said through a translator. "With the change in government‚ our educational system starts from zero‚ and that’s just in the capital. You can’t imagine outside the cities."



Kennesaw State was chosen to host the delegation after President Betty L. Siegel pledged the university’s support to helping women reclaim their place in Afghani society following five years of oppression under the former Taliban regime. At Dr. Siegel’s suggestion‚ 36 women university presidents and chancellors took out an ad in the New York Times‚ extending "the hand of friendship" to the women of Afghanistan. The presidents and chancellors each head campuses that are part of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU).



"As women presidents and chancellors‚ we offer our special support for the redevelopment of education for women in Afghanistan and add our voices to your own in the struggle for greater human rights and a more peaceful world‚" the ad stated.



While rebuilding the educational system in their country is a primary goal (security for the people of Afghanistan is foremost on their minds)‚ the women said many Afghans lack basic necessities. They described a war−torn‚ drought−ridden country where most residents lack electricity and basic medicines‚ and where children often go to school hungry and without books.



Shukria Amani‚ staff assistant to Afghanistan’s finance minister and a lecturer at Kabul University‚ said America‚ with its vast resources‚ will play a critical role in building a new Afghanistan.



"America is a great big powerful country that can help rebuild this little country‚" she said.





A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers more than 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its approximately 38,000 students. With 13 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the third-largest university in the state. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 92 countries across the globe. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status, and one of the 50 largest public institutions in the country. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.

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