H.S. students exchanging images with counterparts in Afghanistan

    For the past seven months, students from the Constitution High School in Philadelphia have captured and exchanged hundreds of photos with students from the Marefat High School in Kabul, Afghanistan.

    An International photography project is breaking cultural barriers between students in Afghanistan and America. With funding from the American Association of Museums, the National Constitution Center has taken nearly two dozen high school students beyond their history books and into the lives of their peers across the globe.
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    For the past seven months, students from the Constitution High School in Philadelphia have captured and exchanged hundreds of photos with students from the Marefat High School in Kabul, Afghanistan.

    12MPAFGHAN2
    A student from the Marefat High School in Afghanistan takes a picture of his American peers at the National Constitution Center

    It’s part of the program “Being We the People: Afghanistan, America and the Minority Imprint.” The program gives students, separated by thousands of miles, the chance to share their culture through pictures.

    The images depict everyday scenes of classrooms, weddings, parades, prayer services and more.

    Last week, the 10 Afghan students visited Philadelphia to collaborate with the Constitution students on a special photo project. They spent the week touring landmarks like the Constitution Center, Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell.

    Fifteen-year-old Fatema Jafari of Marefat said the program gave her valuable insight about the people, places and traditions of the United States.

    “This project changed all of us,” Jafari said.

    But students weren’t the only ones shaped by the experience. Cliff Stanton is a world history teacher at Constitution who said the experience has been both emotional and rewarding.

    Stanton: It’s been goosebumps and tears in our eyes and very moving of watching both groups of kids realizing how much they have in common and the depth of soul that can connect them, Stanton said. “I mean even the kids, when they asked the kids ‘How do you date?’ The kids over there said ‘We don’t date, we have arranged marriages.’ So our kids are going: What?

    A photo of an Afghan boy getting a haircut, submitted by a student at Marefat High School for a photo project.
    A photo of an Afghan boy getting a haircut, submitted by a student at Marefat High School for a photo project.

    Sayed Madidi is a senior at Marefat High who hopes this eye-opening experience will bring more understanding between two nations.

    Madidi: We want to change the vision of the people,” Madidi. “We want to say that Afghanistan and United States can be very close friends and counterpart countries.

    A handful of the students’ photos will be on display at the National Constitution Center this May.

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