Focus on Afghanistan...The World Is A Very Small Place...
Beginning in 2011, World Partnerships welcomed hundreds of the new generation of leaders from Afghanistan to St. Petersburg and the Tampa Bay region through the International Visitor Leadership Program. Among them were elected leaders, journalists, educators, poets, women leaders, civil servants, scientists and leaders of civil society. The Tampa Bay region was also the destination where Afghans joined their neighboring countries of Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Bangladesh, Nepal and India for projects ranging from journalism and media to regional trade arrangements. For these visitors, particularly those from Afghanistan, the Tampa Bay region was their place of respite in the midst of ongoing conflict in their homeland. Afghan visitors shared their hopes and have left a lasting impact on those of us in the Tampa Bay area.
As the US evacuation began in mid-August, we learned very quickly that some of our Afghan alumni had no choice but to leave. Many others and their families remain in harm’s way. We are determined to keep in contact with our IVLP alumni, establish their needs, and help where we can. We recognize our power to help across the globe is limited, But we also recognize the power of shared experiences. With this in mind, we want to retell the stories of these Afghans who have visited here, what their American experience meant to us and to them. We want to share their hopes of building a better nation and a better world. We also want to celebrate how our Tampa Bay community welcomed Afghan IVLP visitors with open arms. Our hope is that we may be so welcoming once again.
Our storytelling framework is to be:
Watch for Afghan "stories along the way" in future issues of the World Partnerships Gazette!