Today's is a good news story. A woman named Paula Nirschel, after the events of 9/11, was searching for a way to help the people of Afghanistan and channel her energy from her grief of the events. She founded a program called the Initiative to Educate Afghan Women. In 2002, she set out to match young women win post-Taliban Afghanistan to U.S. colleges so that they might pursue a degree. She sent out letters to 2000 schools asking for participation in her new program. Three signed up right away.
The three signing on were Roger Williams University in Rhode Island, Notre Dame College in New Hampshire and the University of Montana, Missoula. Four years out, 20 students at 10 universities are enrolled.
As for Roger Williams University, this was a given. Mrs. Nirschel is married to the president of the university! He admits his first response to Paula's request for his opinion of her idea was to suggest they just give to a charity. But he says, "My wife can be very persuasive."
The idea was to find college-ready candidates and pay for their travel expenses to the U.S. The colleges were asked to pay tuition, room and board. As a matter of note, these women are prepared for their classes. They spent formative years huddled in basements secretly learning from male relatives and some lived in Pakistani refugee camps to get a chance to go to school. None of them have a GPA below 3.5. Girls were not allowed education under the Taliban.
Two requirements of the students are that they return to Afghanistan each summer to work for an organization involved in rebuilding the country and they must go home at the end of their four years in this country. The program does not serve as an escape from Afghanistan. This program helps along the progress of the shaping of Afghanistan.
The colleges participating to date are:
Duke University, N.C.
Juniata College, Pa.
Kennesaw State University, Ga.
Middlebury College, Vt.
Montclair State University, N.J.
Mount Holyoke College, Mass.
Roger Williams University, R.I.
Simmons College, Mass.
University of Montana, Missoula
University of Richmond, Va.
Looking for colleges for your child? That's a good place to start. Support institutes of higher learning doing good in this world.
To follow up on yesterday's post, Yale University declined to participate.
This is a good news story that does your heart good.
"The human race has one effective weapon--and that is laughter." - Mark Twain