To provide a forum to address issues affecting the Afghan-American diaspora, and a platform to facilitate dialogue, relationship-building and innovation.
The Afghan American Conference aims to address community issues, promote civic engagement, and foster professional networking among young Afghan-American adults ages 18-39. The conference is equal parts professional, cultural, and personal. It consists of keynote speeches, field-specific panels, skill-building workshops, roundtable discussions, safe spaces to discuss cultural taboos, and even TED Talks.
The Afghan-American diaspora has historically lacked a space where we can discuss the issues most pertinent to us. Traditionally, we have come together primarily for social functions, including weddings and funerals, concerts and picnics, sports tournaments and house parties. None of these gatherings are conducive to serious discussions about the state of our community.
Furthermore, given the impoverished state of Afghanistan, it is understandable that so much of our civic-minded attention has turned towards humanitarian relief for the motherland. With so much attention abroad, though, we have failed to take a long, hard look at the state of our own community. Almost every Afghan family landed in the U.S. as refugees with few resources, and many are still stuck in the same socioeconomic status.
According to the “Bay Area Muslim Study” by Drs. Farid Senzai and Hatem Bazian, Afghans have the fewest households making over $100,000 among any Muslim group in the San Francisco Bay Area. As the only ethnicity with less than half of our community having pursued higher education, we are also the least educated Muslim group in Northern California. This is particularly troubling given that the Bay Area is the cultural center of our diaspora. Even the mere fact that we only have statistics on Bay Area Afghans, and only in relation to other Muslim ethnicities, speaks to our underrepresented status--and the task before us.
This is where the Afghan-American Conference comes into the picture. This conference is meant to provide a forum for our community to gather and discuss difficult topics in a respectful, forward-thinking manner. This is a grassroots effort at shedding light on these pressing issues and inspiring action from within the community. Though incomplete in addressing the full scope of problems impacting our diaspora, we hope it will be a step in the right direction.