On the heels of two historic events – the death of Osama Bin Laden and the Egyptian revolution – Beaver students in Kader Adjout’s “Conflicts Around the World” elective had the chance to speak with students in Pakistan and Egypt about their thoughts on these events.
On Thursday, May 5, the class used Skype to connect with a group of students at the Beaconhouse Garden Town Branch school in Pakistan. The spirited discussion focused on the events surrounding the death of Osama Bin Laden as well as recent drone attacks in Pakistan.
Pakistani students were skeptical that Bin Laden was actually dead given that previous rumors about his death were false and that the U.S. refused to release photographic proof of his death. Beaver students replied that President Obama was withholding the photos for fear they would be seen as disrespectful by militant Muslims and provoke further terrorist attacks. They added that DNA proof of Bin Laden’s identity was obtained.
Beaver students asked several questions about how the Pakistani people viewed U.S. drone attacks that often kill civilians and whether any of the students in this group had been directly impacted. The Pakistani students replied that drone attacks feel like an infringement of Pakistan’s sovereignty and kill more civilians than can be justified by the impact they have on terrorists. Although the attacks occur far from Lahore, where the students live, the militants retaliate by sending suicide bombers to the major cities like Lahore, so they live in constant fear of bombs.
Overall, the Pakistani students expressed their generally pro-American feelings and appreciation of aid received from the U.S., but the U.S. military presence in their country is a source of frustration for them.
At the conclusion of the hour-long discussion, the Pakistani teacher concluded by saying how wonderful it was for students to be able to have exchanges like this one. She acknowledged that political and military leaders may make decisions that citizens don’t agree with and that it is good for ordinary citizens to have the opportunity to ask questions of each other and express their opinions.
Read a news story about the event from the Beaconhouse School.
Earlier in the week, Beaver students traveled to downtown Boston to participate in a webcast with a group of Egyptian youth leaders. The event, sponsored by Empower Peace, allowed the students to learn about the personal experiences of the youth during the Egyptian revolution.
After opening statements, both groups of students had the opportunity to ask questions of each other. Beaver students inquired about the personal effect the revolution had on the Egyptian students as well what they thought the future would bring. The Egyptian group asked about the media coverage of the revolution in the United States and what people were doing in the U.S. to support the revolution.
The overriding feeling coming from the Egyptians was a newfound sense of pride in their country. They said that the revolution brought out the best in the people of Egypt and that the best thing to come from the events was a greater sense of an Egyptian identity.
One student summed up the events in Egypt by saying, “I have a voice and I changed my country.”
An archived recording of the webcast is available on the Empower Peace website.