The National Constitution Center has just received a grant of $105,000 from the American Association of Museums for a civic photography program that will link high school students from Philly with minority students in Kabul.
Students from Constitution High School in Philly, where a mostly minority student body focuses on the role of citizens in a democracy, will pair with students from the Marefat High School in Kabul, whose students are members of the Shiite Hazara minority. They will exchange ideas and photos that portray how they, as minority students, define their role as citizens in their respective countries. The photos will be ultimately used in a joint exhibition to be hosted at the National Constitution center and the National Museum of Afghanistan.
I visited the Marefat school when I was in Afghanistan in April, and met the students who will take part in the program. Some of them are shown in the photo above. They may look a bit stiff (they aren't used to being photographed) but they broke up in giggles once the camera was off them. And they all spoke in English, with different degrees of fluency, about what the program means to them.
Having grown up during war and an unsettled postwar, they are just figuring out what citizenship means in their country. The school's terrific founder and director, Aziz Royesh, who has thought deeply on this subject is trying to explain to them the meaning of civic rights - and responsibilities.
I will write about my meeting with Royesh and the Afghan students in my column on Wednesday.