Students reflect on war in Afghanistan

One month after Yale commemorated the 10-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, students gathered to reflect on a decade of American military action in Afghanistan.

Around 25 students gathered in Dwight Hall Chapel Friday evening to reflect on the state of the Afghanistan War with spoken word poetry and a candlelight vigil. Members of the Yale Afghanistan Forum, which organized Afghanistan Ten Years On with support from the University Chaplain’s Office and Dwight Hall, said the purpose of the event was to provide attendees with varying takes on America’s presence in the Afghanistan War.

The vigil marked the start of a weeklong commemoration of the Afghanistan War organized by the Yale Afghanistan Forum.

Anna Kellar, president of the Yale Afghanistan Forum, opened the event by reminding attendees they were a generation that had “grown up along with this war.” Students must remain aware of the war, she said, so that they do not become apathetic toward the conflict.

“Our country is at war and I think it’s important for us to keep that in mind,” said Shahla Naimai ’12, the community outreach chair for the Yale Afghanistan Forum.

At the event, participants read a series of poem-style profiles, beginning with “Badria Zhowandai: A Female, Minority Returnee from the Afghan Refugee Camp in Pakistan,” and reflecting the perspectives of Afghan refugees, U.S. soldiers, American families and others involved with the war.

Naimai, who came up with the idea of incorporating poetry readings into the vigil, wrote seven of the evening’s eight poems specifically for this event based on her research, imagination and firsthand accounts from friends. The people involved in the war are more important than its controversial political implications, she added.

“I appreciated the sincerity of the poems and the bluntness of the words ­— the to-the-point harshness of what they were trying to say,” attendee Ella Wood ’15 said.

Josh McCormick DIV ’12 read the only nonfiction poem of the evening: a self-written piece inspired by his experiences working with the NGO Afghans for Progressive Thinking. Other poems were read by members of the Yale Afghanistan Forum and student volunteers.

The event ended with a candle-lighting ceremony and a few moments of silent reflection.

“Keep in mind this candle is for both sides, and for all people,” Namai said.

A panel on education policy held Sunday morning at St. Thomas More Chapel featured Wazhma Sadat ’14, a student from Afghanistan who matriculated at Yale , along with nonprofits that work in Afghanistan. There will be a film screening, Master’s Tea and Afghan rug exhibit later this week.

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