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Gospels students talk directly with Afghani students using Skype

Skype bridges teenagers in war-torn Afghanistan with Brophy students

By Brian Brannon ’11

Educators, activists and organizations have used virtual communication to help connect with distant friends, spread ideas and propagate political activism.

Brophy teacher Mr. Tim Broyles has recently used the communication software Skype to connect students in Afghanistan with students in his Gospel in Action class.

Mr. Broyles stated that the students discussed the realities of the conflict in Afghanistan and it’s effects on the daily lives of the Afghani students.

The idea was first brought to Mr. Broyles by Kathy Kelly, a non-violence peace activist.

“We really became kindred spirits,” Mr. Broyles said.

Kelly coordinates Voices for Non-Violence, an organization with the goal of ending the United States’ military and economic warfare abroad, according to the group’s website.

Kelly’s activism in non-violence peace movements dates back to 1988 when she was arrested for attempting to plant corn on nuclear missile sites.

Her more recent endeavors have been to help the children of Iraq and Afghanistan through organizations like the Voices for Non-Violence and the Fellowship of Reconciliation.

The Fellowship of Reconciliation sends delegations of volunteers to conflict zones in order to take care of the children and innocent civilians caught in the crossfire.

The usage of Skype as a bridge between the war-torn valleys of Afghanistan and the docile setting of Brophy’s halls helps give Brophy students perspective on the daily lives of Afghan teenagers, according to Mr. Broyles.

Mr. Broyles said his main hope is that the calls will allow the Brophy participants to gain understanding and stand in solidarity with those in Afghanistan.

He also alluded that a distant goal would be to form a Brophy-Afghanistan delegation, much like those of the Fellowship of Reconciliation.

The most recent Skype call took place Feb. 15 between Mr.Broyles, members of the Afghanistan Youth Peace Volunteers and faculty at Gonzaga High School.

The Afghanistan Youth Peace Volunteers was started by a group of Afghan youth and college students in 2008.

Their main goal is to help bridge the gap between Americans and Afghanis, eventually leading to a time of peace in Afghanistan, an endeavor the group coins “the Journey to Smile.”

The continued connection between Brophy students and Afghan youth will hopefully build a stronger understanding on both sides, as well as empathy for those in conflict zones around the world, according to Mr. Broyles.

Broyles said he hopes that more people will be able to participate in later calls this year although the 12 hour time difference creates difficulty.

For more information on how to participate contact Mr. Broyles.

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