Continued turmoil in Afghanistan calls Global Scholars into action


Ana Lopez del Punta '23

Afghanistan is in a state of political and social chaos after the Taliban took over the country August 15.

After 20 years of military occupation, the Biden administration withdrew United States forces from Afghanistan May 1.  Just three months later, the Taliban, a Sunni Islamic political organization, usurped power from former Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, according to The New York TimesMs. Judy Scinto, Upper School Spanish Teacher and Global Scholars Coordinator, chose the theme of refugeeism for the 2022 Global Scholars Cohort in order to initiate discussions about the conflict in Afghanistan and the importance of global citizenship. 

The Taliban seized the capital city of Afghanistan, Kabul, and took official control of the nation August 15.  At the Kabul Airport, thousands of Afghans clung to military planes, attempting to escape their country’s new regime, according to The New York TimesAn Afghan suicide bomber at the airport terminal killed 90 civilians who were seeking asylum and 13 members of the American military.  That same day, another attack outside the airport left 18 American servicemen injured, according to The Wall Street Journal. 

Schools in Afghanistan are now segregated based on gender for students in fourth to sixth grade. Courtesy of Victor J. Blue for The New York Times 

Experts speculate that Afghanistan is nearing a humanitarian crisis in addition to its current political turmoil.  Nearly half of the population does not have enough resources to survive, according to  Afghans are currently experiencing widespread food shortages in light of increased prices and a lack of jobs while national health declines, according to The New York Times.  The United Nations (UN) estimates that 14 million people do not have reliable access to water and food.  Additionally, 3.2 million children are in danger of malnutrition with 1 million at risk of death, according to

The Taliban rule has a disproportionate impact on women in Afghanistan.  Girls in grades seven through 12 have not attended school since the government takeover August 15.  Taliban leaders also prohibited classes on engineering, government, and cooking as well as any form of vocational education for women.  Female politicians cannot serve in government and female athletes cannot play on sports teams, according to The New York Times.  Many women are now unemployed under Taliban rule and lack the opportunity to immigrate to the United States.  Only 48 percent of women possess a National Identity Document (ID), which the United States requires for Visa applications, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The Taliban also restricted the freedom of the press in Afghanistan.  The media now cannot criticize or mention issues that clash with Taliban political figures or the Islam religion.  With 100 newspapers and radio stations shut down, many journalists fled the country or are in hiding, according to The New York Times.

Sixty-five thousand Afghans are currently living in military bases until the United States government relocates them into American communities, according to The New York Times. 

Global Scholar Candidates focused on global refugeeism for their summer assignment.  In the cohort’s first meeting, they examined refugeeism and its causes, which are violence, natural disasters, disease, and economic hardship.  Ms. Scinto and the candidates also discussed ways to raise awareness about the growing number of displaced people.

Global Scholar Candidates and Ms. Scinto discuss refugeeism in their first meeting.  Ana López del Punta ’23

“The essence of global citizenship is having an awareness beyond yourself,” Ms. Scinto said.  “Even though it is not in my backyard, how do I help people who are suffering in the world?  There are non-governmental organizations that can help not only give people food, clothing, resources to help them in their difficult times, but hopefully pathways for large groups of people to find safety.”

Through the Advanced Placement Spanish and Language course at Sacred Heart Greenwich, senior Megan Maloney developed a passion for learning about global citizenship.  Now a Global Scholars Candidate, Megan commented on the necessity of educating others to have a worldly perspective. 

“I think we should make other people more aware because if we educate ourselves, we fulfill part of our role, but then that’s not enough,” Megan said.  “We need to make sure other people around us, like our friends and our family, are watching the news, reading articles, and educating themselves because there is only so much that one can do individually, but educating yourself is something that is completely in your control and also in your ability to help others do the same.”

Featured Image by Ana López del Punta ’23