Nasrin Nawa, a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and former journalist with BBC Persian based in Kabul, wrote an Aug. 16 guest column for The Washington Post, outlining her family’s ordeal amid the aftermath of the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan.
Nawa, a graduate student in journalism and mass communications, fled Kabul on Aug. 13, but her sister and parents have not been able to leave the country.
In her column, Nawa said the night before she left, her family threw a goodbye party and still held some hope things might get better.
“We thought that, if needed, they could leave to a safe place, but only temporarily, since the family still had a small business to run,” she wrote. “It all seems like a distant dream now. My sister and I used to go cycling around the city. (We were members of the female national cycling federation.) She even used her bike to go to the bank the day the Taliban arrived in Kabul. Now I can’t imagine girls biking freely like that ever again.”
— Katy Tur Reports (@KatyOnMSNBC) August 17, 2021
With reports circulating about Taliban militants raiding the houses of activists, journalists and others, Nawa told her sister, also a journalist, to go home and hide all of her family’s identification cards. Nawa then told her sister to destroy her guitar.
“She said her hands were unable to do that, but I pleaded with her,” Nawa wrote. “I told her the Taliban’s hands are capable of killing you for your art. But I can’t imagine literally shattering such an important part of who you are.”
She wrote that the hopes, passions, careers and plans of many young Afghans are crumbling and that despair is widespread among the security forces.
“So many soldiers and civilians sacrificed their lives in the past two decades to leave the dark period of the Taliban behind,” she wrote. “The Taliban’s assurances that they will not harm people are not to be trusted. Once the power rests in their hands and they get the world’s acknowledgment, they will silently make people vanish.”
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Josh Davis, associate vice chancellor for global affairs and senior international officer at Nebraska, said Nawa is one of four Fulbright graduate students from Afghanistan enrolled at the university for the fall semester. She began her graduate studies remotely in January. Another female Fulbright student from Afghanistan has also arrived safely on campus. The International Student and Scholar Office is working to make contact with the other two students.
Davis said the university will do everything it can to support these students, including working with the State Department to support them when their program ends.
The university offers counseling and other support programs for students, faculty and staff. Students can find assistance through Counseling and Psychological Services and Big Red Resilience and Well-being. Faculty and staff can find support through the Employee Assistance Program.