“What does Sahar mean to me?” – Nina Boe

I can’t recall the first time Afghanistan came onto my radar, but like many young adults in the United States, I recall U.S. military intervention in the region. As I grew older, I realized how ironic it was – Afghanistan remained mostly a military topic for many Americans for years, and that narrative dominated our consciousness and awareness of the country. It was only later that I learned of the improvements and developments, strides that Afghans and others were making in the country despite ongoing conflict and security issues.

I grew up in diverse public schools in Seattle, later attending community college and the University of Washington. Every person I met shared some small piece of a story, making me want to learn more. Classes tied in international issues and conflict–but I kept asking questions that we didn’t study. What happened after wars were over? What does it mean to pick up the pieces of life and society when those pieces are so broken and scattered, and some people were denied any piece to begin with? Just when I felt I was gaining traction in an area, I’d encounter a question or story that forced me to peel back another layer of my knowledge: where do women and girls fit into this picture? Where does education fit? Digging deeper, I learned how conflict and lack of educational opportunities disproportionately affects women, negatively affects families and communities, and hinders community growth and development.

My international interests began in southeastern Europe, migrating across the Middle East and into south Asia. I gravitated towards languages – for pleasure, communicating, and connecting with new people. After returning to Seattle from two years abroad, I bumped into a job posting from an organization called Sahar. I could tell it was a Persian word, and wondered, “what do they do?” A year later, I bumped into Executive Director Ginna Brelsford and then Sahar Fellow Airokhsh Faiz Qaisary, and resolved to stay in touch. Another year later I came across an internship posting with Sahar, and immediately contacted Ginna to learn more. I am excited to use skills I am learning and honing in my degree work – to be able to ask the questions I’ve always wanted to ask, but also be able to start unpacking the process of how do we work towards answering them. I am honored to support such an incredible organization, and look forward to learning and sharing even more!

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