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International students travel all over the world to study different lands education systems. Many of them come here to the United States of America, the land of opportunity. Many of them believe that if they come here they will have a better chance of doing what they have always wanted to do. I was given an assignment by my teacher to interview an international student I got their input on what it is like to be an international student here in the United States of America. I met Sameer, my international student, through some high school friends that go to the same college as him in Tennessee. He was more then happy to tell me about what he is going through as a student in the United States. Not only did I learn about him, but his country as well. We will get to know more about Sameer and the country of Afghanistan. Focusing on the Economy of Afghanistan and how it has changed since the September 11, 2001 tragedy.
“Afghanistan too many Americans is a threat to them. People think that because of what some of the people did their all of Afghanistan is to blame. I am ashamed to see what some of the people from my country have done, but I am not ashamed to say that Afghanistan is my home country” Sameer tells me in my personal interview with him. “Alliance Doesn’t want to shift focus to Iraq…Bush Administration understood the alliance’s preoccupied with Afghanistan” (Slavin 10A). “You read it all over the news how bad Afghanistan has been since September 11, 2001” he adds. Sameer grow-up with his mother and father, and older brother. They all moved to the United States of America when Sameer was 10 years old. His father wanted his children to have the opportunity to get rich and be able to support their families. When they got here they quickly learned it was a lot harder for them to live and work in the land of opportunity. Sameer’s father had a hard time finding a job, but finally just took a job as a cashier at a local store. They lived in a small apartment until Sameer was 14 years old. This is when his father got the break they needed. He started to run and operate his own gasoline station in the town of Brentwood, Tennessee.
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Afghanistan is located in Central Asia, bordered by Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, China, and Pakistan. It is home to approximately 28,700,000 of Pashtun, Tajik, Hazara, Aimaks, Turkmen, Baloch, Uzbek, and other ethnic groups. The main language spoken in Afghanistan is Afghan Persian, which is the official language of Afghanistan. Also about 99% of the countries religion is Muslim, which is broken down into two groups Sunnites and Shiites. “The Geography of Afghanistan, encompassing 245, 000 square miles, features variety of terrains” (Magnus Pg. 2). Most of Afghanistan is made up of rugged mountains and then plains in the North and Southwest. The country is known to be called, landlocked, because “the Hindu Kush Mountains that run northeast to southwest divide the northern provinces from the rest of the country”(World Factbook). This is why the climate is arid to semiarid, winters are cold and snowy, and the summers are hot and dry. There is not to much snow in the lowland desert areas in the southwest, but the snow season on average is in October to April. The wet season runs from late winter to early spring, but the country itself is usually very dry and arid as I mentioned before. Strong winds are seen throughout the year and cause sandstorms in the summer and extreme blizzards in the winter. Their land is very rich in mineral resources, which include coal deposits, copper, gold, silver, lapis, salt, natural gases, iron ore, sulfur, chrome, zinc, uranium, rubies and oil. Not only are minerals resources, but also their food products they grow. “Major sources of cash income are cotton, sugar beets, sugar cane, wool, and par excellence karakul skins” (Wilber Pg. 224). Now moving on from resources to some of the smaller things Afghanistan has to use. It may be a third world country, but they have communication and transportations just like we do in the United States of America, but not as commonly spread out there. Some of their communications are telephone, mobile phones, radio, television, and internet. Transportations involve railroads, highways, waterways, pipelines, ports and harbors, airports, and heliports. As you can tell there’s a lot about this small country. Now let’s see differences in lifestyles between Afghanistan and the United States.
In Afghanistan the men and women are treated differently and have different day to day activities. They are different from us since we are a free nation and do not discriminate against men and women. Men in Afghanistan are the money makers. They get up early every morning to go to work, or work at home in the fields and sale their goods at the local market. When you look at the men in the Afghanistan they are casual and very comfortable no matter what weather. The women in Afghanistan however, are treated in a lower class. “They say women are just for houses, we can’t go to school, to the office, to work” (Johnson pg. 45). Not only do they have to stay at home, they must take care of the children and the elderly. They cook and clean and make sure that the household is always in control. You know the men wear casual clothes, but the women’s clothing is not casual at all. They have to be wearing a scarf, trousers, and/ or a full length dress at all times. This makes it more difficult in weather conditions for the women. Now a typical day in the United States of America, however, is both men and women have the chance to work and/or stay at home. We have the freedom to do what we want and to wear what we want with in the laws. You can tell that Afghanistan is a lot different then us here in the United States of America. They also are a very religious country and go by their beliefs on how they should or shouldn’t live their lives. Here in the United States of America, we have the freedoms to do what we wish of ourselves. A lot of us don’t go by what our religion tells us to do, but by what we want to do and what we think is right. Another difference is that Afghanistan doesn’t have as much military support as the United States of America does. The have never been a very rich country and it’s hard for them to buy military equipment like we do. And ever since the September 11, 2001 attacks many countries have taken our side to fight off acts of terrorism. These were just three of the differences there are so many more, but even though there are a lot of differences, there are also some similarities between these two countries. One small similarity between the United States of America and Afghanistan is that our climates are alike. The Southern part of the United States of America is lined up with the country of Afghanistan. They have the same summer and winter seasons and are known to have really hot summers and really cold winters. Just like Afghanistan a lot of our southern United States doesn’t get to much snowfall. “The whole of the south of the USA is normally extremely hot from May to September, with the southwest usually being very hot and dry, and the southeast usually being almost unbearably hot and humid” (Grouptravel Network). Not a lot of people think they have much in common, so it was hard for me to find information on their similarities. Now that we know about Afghanistan, how does the United States of America and Afghanistan have anything to do with each other?
The history of Afghanistan and the United States goes way back. In 1955, Afghanistan asked for assistance from the United States government about our military. They wanted weapons from us, and training from our military men. President Eisenhower didn’t think that would be a good idea. “Every country was asking for hand-outs, and the line had to be drawn somewhere. Eisenhower decided to draw the line at Afghanistan” (Sloan). I read about one incidence where we had some United State Marine Guards in Afghanistan. They witnessed a radio tower being shot down by Afghans wanting to take control and have a new leader for their country. Since the country is so small, it relies on radio and television. So, whoever owned the radio station controls Afghanistan. After this the United States continued its friendship with Afghanistan, even though they know what was going on in the country of Afghanistan. “It was true that there were reports of fighting and killing out in the countryside…and would be fighting and killing for a thousand years more. This was nothing for the US to be concerned about. The important thing was to do business as usual with the enlightened leadership of Noor Mohammed Tureki and not to let anything get in the way of the friendly relations between the US and the Government of Afghanistan” (Sloan). The United States has really just not looking at what Afghanistan had been doing. They just put it under the rug, and it came back to us on September 11, 2001. After that tragic day the United States took action to stop the powers of Afghanistan and not give into their manipulations. “Rival Afghan warlords, responsible for much of the violence, are disarming only slowly…but modest progress” (Sharif 3A). After all you have learned about Afghanistan so far, I can now tell you about the economics of this third world country and how it has changed before September 11, 2001 and after.
Afghanistan is an extremely poor, landlocked country, highly dependent on foreign aid, farming and livestock raising, and trade with neighboring countries. Economic thoughts have played to political and military disturbances during more than two decades of war, including the nearly 10-year Soviet military occupation in Afghanistan, which ended in February 1989. During that conflict, one-third of the population fled the country, with Pakistan and Iran sheltering 4 to 6 million refugees. “The gross domestic product has fallen substantially over the past 20 years because of loss of labor and capital and disruption of trade and transport” (1 Up Travel). Severe droughts have added to the nation's difficulties in the years of 1998-2002. The majority of the population continues to suffer from lack of food, clothing, housing, medical care, and a shortage of jobs, problems made worse by political uncertainties. International efforts to rebuild Afghanistan were addressed at a Tokyo Conference for Afghan reconstruction in January 2002, when approximately $4.5 billion was pledged to the country. Of that $4.5 billion, approximately $900 million was directed to humanitarian aid - food, clothing, and shelter. The main concerns for reconstruction of Afghanistan was upgrading the education system, health, and sanitation facilities, providing jobs, enhancing administrative and security, agricultural, transportation, energy, and telecommunication. After that money, almost 2 million was returned to refugees of Afghanistan. One question comes to my mind, how has Afghanistan’s economy changed since the September 11, 2001 attacks? Its really simple, nothing has really changed. They are still in debt and even harder for them to pay off this debt now that so many countries are against it. “Ultimately, the creation of new industries will be vital to provide employment opportunities for young people whose only other option is to take arms” (Johnson Pg. 65).
Getting to know an international student has shown me a lot about the world and about its people. I had no idea about Afghanistan and what it was like as a country. I have to admit, I was mad at it when I found out about September 11, 2001. I didn’t want anything to do with it and I was so glad we went to war. Now that I am in college I see so many different cultures around me. I have learned to see people for their differences and not label them with their country. One of my best friends introduced me to Sameer, and I am so glad I meet him. He has opened my mind to cultures besides my own. I am glad I was given this assignment of getting to know an international student. The information I have learned will stay with me into the future and hopefully change some of my decisions I make about others with differences.
Work Cited Page
“1 Up Travel”. Afghanistan Economy. 1999. CIA Worldbook. 9 Dec, 2003
Durani, Sameer. Personal interview. 19 Oct. 2003.
“Grouptravel Network”. The Climate of the USA and Canada. 2000. Grouptravels online. 29 Nov. 2003 <http://www.grouptravels.com/usa_can/climate/climate.htm>.
Johnson, Chris. Afghanistan: A land in Shadow. United Kingdom: London. 1998.
Magnus, Ralph H. Afghanistan. Colorado: Boulder. 1998
Sharif, Mazar. “Rumsfeld examines Afghan progress.” St. Cloud Times 5 Dec. 2003: 3A.
Slavin, Barbara. “NATO: Afghanistan is ‘priority’.” USA Today 5 Dec. 2003: 10A.
Sloan, Mohammad Ismail. A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE WAR IN AFGHANISTAN. 2 Dec. 2003 <http://www.samsloan.com/afghans.htm>.
Wilber, Donald N. Afghanistan: its people, its society, its culture. Connecticut: New Haven. 1962.
“World Factbook.” Afghanistan. 2003. Factbook Online. 3 Dec. 2003