June 2018 (Volume 68, Issue 5)
By Ethan Lee, Editor-in-Chief
On Monday, June 4, students at Needham High School participated in a Skype call with the Kandahar Institute of Modern Studies (KIMS), a school in Afghanistan. Students in Mr. Stanczak’s AP US History class took part in this call, as they discussed topics related to school life with the students of KIMS.
The Kandahar Institute of Modern Studies itself is a very progressive school located in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Founded in 2007 and funded by both the US and Canadian governments in the past, KIMS aspires to provide education to both male and female students; in fact, female students attend for free while male students must pay tuition. On average, every graduate from KIMS use the skills they have learned to provide for six other family members, showing the importance of KIMS for many people in Afghanistan.
The event was organized by Ethan Lee, who moderated the call. Lee worked with educators at KIMS in order to provide an opportunity for two groups of students with different cultures and backgrounds to understand each other. In a time when American students have many misconceptions regarding the people of Afghanistan and nations in Central Asia and the Middle East, Lee hoped to bring the students of NHS and KIMS together through this meeting.
During the call, students from both schools began by answering a set of questions regarding their school lives, such as “What are your courses?” and “How do you get to school?” Through discussions on these topics, the NHS and KIMS students learned more about each other’s school lives. Whereas NHS offers a variety of different sports for all students, KIMS students explained that soccer and cricket were the most popular sports in Kandahar. NHS students also learned about the different foods that the KIMS students ate as well as their school systems. Additionally, the two groups of students had different plans for the future–the NHS students intended to immediately apply to college, while KIMS students hoped to take English exams such as the TOEFL. However, the NHS and KIMS students also found similarities between each other’s lives. Both schools had advanced computer classes, and provided the same materials (such as notebooks, pens/pencils) to students. Throughout the call, both groups of students shared lighthearted moments as well. For example, the NHS students were pleasantly surprised to discover that one common pet kept by Afghan students was a peacock.
The students also discussed the role of education in their aspirations for the future. When asked about the meaning of education, one KIMS student replied, “Education means life to me. If I want to achieve my dreams, [and] if I want to gain what I am planning, I have to get an education first. Education is a dream.” Another KIMS student explained, “School is really important to me, because by getting an education I can make my future bright. Without an education I cannot get a job.” To the same question, NHS junior Giulia Rozzo replied, “For me school is certainly very important…but having so many different opportunities, not only to learn from a variety of very good teachers but also the opportunity to explore different things…is certainly a luxury that many places don’t have.”
The event was met with many positive responses from Principal Sicotte, Mr. Stanczak, and the students involved. Many NHS students looked forward to having another conversation with KIMS, in order to discuss further topics. Mr. Stanczak also encouraged another call between NHS and KIMS, and he found that the event “went great with a lot of positivity from both schools…it [was] a unique situation for all of us.”
Truly, the Skype call was eye-opening for all of the students involved. Both the students and teachers at NHS and KIMS gained important knowledge about each other’s livelihoods, and found great value in the meeting. This event will hopefully be a first step in bringing together not only NHS and KIMS, but also the people of the US and Afghanistan.