I have to re-post this amazing poem written by Cindy Harris. It contains such incredible awareness. I have already written about the Central Asian Institue’s amazing work in building schools in Afghanistan. What an amazing young girl she is… read for yourself.
February 11, 2013 – Young Iowan gets it
Cindy Harris from Bettendorf, Iowa recently contacted Central Asia Institute and told us that her eleven year-old daughter, Genny “wrote a poem as part of a project she did on Afghanistan. We are not of Afghan descent. We are simply proud of our daughter who has learned tolerance, compassion and most of all – empathy for others.” Cindy and Genny were kind enough to share her poem with us:
My Home, Afghanistan
By: Genny Harris
Run. To the village where children play.
Race. Past the fields where poppies sway.
Fly. Like the kites that dance in the sky.
Sprint. As you sweat from the heat of July.
Dash. Away from the danger that surrounds.
Dart. Back home where you might be safe and sound.
Jog. Past the mountains that loom very tall.
Walk. To the cliff where you might take a fall.
Our culture is rich, our culture is true, but our way of life is prejudiced too. We live among terrorists, in our hearts they strike fear, but without understanding, many will continue to jeer.
With our neighboring countries we may not agree, but hatred and greed are our real enemies.
We have nothing, a fool might say, but if we have nothing, how can our hope light the way?
We will always have hope, this much is true, even when all seems lost, and the sky never blue.
When war rages on, and the future seems dim, some might lose hope, their faces quite grim. I do not live in Syria, Iraq, nor Iran, I live in my home, my home Afghanistan. Only when our world is rid of hatred and greed, can the most beautiful thing in the world: peace, be achieved.
The level of understanding that Genny has as a sixth grader about a culture across the world is inspiring. The poem and the message that it conveys is consistent with CAI’s service learning program, Pennies for Peace. Some of the first CAI (Central Asian Institute) supporters were children who collected pennies to help other children halfway around the world.
Genny attends school at Bettendorf Middle School and enjoys writing, reading, drawing, painting, and soccer. She explained to Jennifer Sipes, CAI’s Operations Director, that in her class assignment she was able to choose a culture that is different from hers and to write about it. This was part of an extended learning program. Other classmates chose topics such as India, Judaism, and slavery. Genny chose Afghanistan. She read the book titled “Extra Credit” by Andrew Clements, a story about a pen-pal exchange between a sixth-grader in Illinois and a boy in Afghanistan. Genny stated that, “When I first chose the book, I wasn’t thinking about what it was about until I realized that this isn’t anything like you hear. We have a lot of prejudice about the way they [Afghans] live and the kind of people they are.” Genny was inspired by the works of the poet, Emily Dickinson, and decided to complete her assignment in the form of a poem.
When Jennifer Sipes, asked Genny if there is anything else she’d like her to know, she said “I really enjoyed writing this and learning about the culture. Some parts of it are really sad, like the way women are treated over there, and I really like the Pennies for Peace program because when I read about it, it was a really good message and it was children helping people.”
Children just like Genny all around the world have collectively raised over $6.9 million, often in pennies or small change, to promote peace through education through CAI’s Pennies for Peace program. It is designed to help students broaden their cultural horizons, learn about their capacities as philanthropists, educates them about the world beyond their experience, and shows them that even they can make a positive impact on a global scale. Genny has certainly learned the rewards of different cultures working together to bring hope and opportunity for peace.