The first annual Afghan-American Conference was held in April 2015 at UC Berkeley in Berkeley, California. Below are highlights from our first annual conference.
We asked participants of AAC 2015 to reflect on what they learned and how they planned on implementing their takeaways into their lives and community.
"I've learned the power of social learning. I've deepened my knowledge and understanding and as a result I've made an effort to put it into action when it comes to relations with my family and friends. The conference has brought me to answer questions I would have never thought to ask in the first place."
- Helai Nawabi, Riverside, California
"One of the main issues that I [became aware of] was the lack of guidance and encouragement our Afghan-American youth have to pursue a higher education. Given this issue, I worked together with fellow AAC participants and established the Afghan Mentorship Program (AMP). AMP is a nation-wide mentorship program that provides students with free assistance throughout their educational career. We look forward to further expanding AMP and getting more AAC participants to partake in our program."
- Omar Noorzay, Los Angeles, California
"At AAC 2015, I learned that if we pool our experiences, skill sets, and backgrounds together, we have an abundance of resources to make the differences we wish to see within ourselves and our community at large. AAC 2015 was a huge inspiration to me—I never thought I would meet so many accomplished individuals within my community. It motivates me and challenges me to grow as a person. From the mentorship programs, to the wellness plans, to the informative panels, to the invaluable network created, it really brought about so many positive changes and relationships in my life. With some of the people I've met through AAC, I've had discussions of starting businesses and with others, conversations of traveling and volunteering. It's really been life-changing and I'm excited to see how much more is in store from the new members of 2016."
- Sabrina Salemi, New York, New York
"I learned a lot from the voices of the girls at the conference. I didn't even realize my own hypocrisy in the ways I thought Afghan girls should be versus how I act myself. I was pretty ashamed of that, but it opened up my eyes to work towards being non-judgmental in regards to that. That in itself was a major take away point, and it greatly changed my perspective since leaving. I was actually very happy to hear many issues the males and females in our culture experience so that we can work towards resolving them together while establishing a strong sense of identity."
Outcomes & Projects
Since AAC 2015, participants have formed nearly a dozen different projects connecting Afghan-Americans nationwide. These independent projects are the true testament to AAC’s lasting success. Below, we highlight four such projects that were formed through the relationships and ideas forged at AAC:
- Afghan Mentorship Program (AMP)
- The Samovar Network (TSN) – a virtual discussion among Afghan-Americans about current events and hot topics, which is live-streamed on YouTube. A nationwide audience interacts with panelists and engages in the conversation with questions of their own.
- Afghan Wellness Club (AWC)
- Our Shared Stories: An Afghan Diary – a non-profit book project dedicated to the collection of personal stories from Afghans around the globe that will make you laugh, bring you to tears, inspire you, and make you feel comfortable in your hyphenated reality.