The Internet has sure blurred the geographical boundaries of the world we live in. Take for instance the intense communication and virtual class that Afghani students exchange with Japanese students through a program initiated by UNICEF. The purpose behind this virtual chat session is to connect the youth from across the globe and get them talking about their daily life, exchange ideas and overcome domestic situations like the earthquake in Japan and the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.
Peter Crowley, UNICEF’s representative in Afghanistan was recently a party to one such web-session held between the Yumoto High School in Iwaki and Tajwar Saltana Girls High School in Kabul. Things like education for girls is taken for granted in Japan, where as the trauma of relocation due to a massive earthquake is something the Kabuli students may not understand. Interaction and conversations between the two student groups help in building a better understanding and tolerance for each other’s cultures. Plus the exchange of stories acts as a therapeutic session for all.
The online class and ‘tegami’ (letter) exchange program initiated by the United Nations Children’s Fund after the quake and tsunami last year, has helped build confidence, solidarity, determination and resilience amongst the students. The Yumoto High students are still studying at a temporary facility but are excited about the exchange program. The lively, positive energy exuded by the students was reflected in the conversations about their daily routine, goals, messages to the adults, likes and dislikes. The sessions are translated into Dari, English and Japanese. The Afghani counterparts still battle with the stigma of early marriage and the girls not being allowed to study or work and in 2009, the Japanese government pitched a ¥2.2 billion aid to the Project for Construction of Educational Facilities in Kabul in cooperation with UNICEF.