Birth of a Dream
by Shahnaz Qayumi
This story began after I was selected by the Canadian Women for Women of Afghanistan (CW4WA) to teach Human Development 1 & 2 to Kabul Educators. The project was called “Training Trainers.” During the course, one of my students, Shabnam Hazrati, a recent graduate of the psychology department from Kabul University, urged me to visit the university where I began my teaching career as a young assistant professor (1980 to 1982).
I was extremely nervous the day I went into Kabul University for the first time after 30 years. I had seen pictures of KU from 2002 and it had been completely destroyed. Of course, KU wasn’t the only institution destroyed during the war; when I arrived I saw that the University was still standing but the tolls of war and devastation were evident. As I entered the Education building, all my memories came alive; the walls, the long corridor I walked almost every day for two years, all spoke loudly to me of their memories. I entered the office of Ustad Habibi it could have been the same office as I used so long ago. I could see myself there, talking to my students about their lives and issues.
When I met the Psychology students in 2012, they were studying hard for their final exams. These students were so excited by what they learned in their psychology classes–they have even established an organization called “Afghanistan Contemporary Psychologists Association”. Their goal is to educate Afghan people about the invisible scars of war, as in Afghanistan everyone has either directly (victim) or indirectly (witness) felt the effects of war, which affects not only their behavior but their general happiness and well-being.
The students are so passionate and enthusiastic in applying what they’ve learned in their human psychology classes to their everyday lives through journals, newspapers, radio and television. During my visit, besides listening to their hopes and dreams for the future in a war torn country, they asked if I could help them rebuild their library. I promised that I would help, and share their story with you.
In August 2012, PAC visited Kabul University with the intent of updating the Psychology and Educational Sciences Faculty Library. We found the books outdated and yellowed from old age and most were simply typed up lecture notes rather than actual textbooks. With generous support, we were able to bring computers donated from the University of British Columbia as well as 200 books to Kabul University that summer.
Upon our visit, the Psychology and Educational Sciences Faculty donated to PAC our own physical space to upgrade, which we have reinvented into the Centre of Excellence For Innovation and Research. The Centre of Excellence has been renovated with new light fixtures, shelves and furniture, completed with many donated computers and textbooks. We are looking for further support from Psychology Departments around the world to donate books, resources or simply to reach out to the Psychology and Educational Sciences Faculty of Kabul University. If you would like to learn more about this project or get involved individually or with your institution, please get in touch with me through the Contact Us page of this website.
by Shahnaz Qayumi