Changing Perspectives: Afghanistan by: Connor Perone, bryce neptune, Justin Riese, and brant palm

Table of Contents

Introduction

"Oil: How Important Can It Be?" a documentary by Justin Riese

"The Burning Sting of Oppression" a Hero's Journey fiction by Bryce Neptune

"News 4 with Brant Palm" a newscast by Brant Palm

"Afghanistan: The Cost of War" an infographic by Connor Perone

Bibliography

Introduction

A country founded on Islamic beliefs, driven by oil, and plagued by war--this is Afghanistan. Since the country’s founding in 2200 BC, the people of Afghanistan have been through it all; the good, the bad, and the ugly. The once-stable country is now under heavy foreign occupation both through a military presence and through billion-dollar corporations looking for oil. Additionally, Afghanistan has experienced great economic disparity and unconventional cultural rule.

Experience in these topics can be seen in the novel The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. In this book, the main character, Amir-- a passive, privileged boy struggles to understand himself and his culture as he is met with obstacles which he has to overcome to survive in the cutthroat country of Afghanistan. Hassan, Amir’s best friend, plays a very important role in the story, allowing the author to express these events through their struggles. By diving deeper into the key events of the novel, one can begin to understand what life in Afghanistan is like. Using careful research and creative thinking, our magazine has prepared 4 unique samples of work that will help us to dissect the single stories that the ignorant spread around. In this magazine, we will present a fictional narrative, infographic, informative newscast, and documentary.

The hero’s journey (fictional) story reveals the social aspects of acid attacks in Afghanistan. Acid attacks are a form of cruel punishment for Afghan women who disobey the social expectations of their culture. In Afghanistan, men are viewed as the superior beings and women are seen as servants to their male counterparts. To control the women, men use terror such as these acid attacks and honor killings. In the hero’s journey story, the reader will follow young female Samara as she overcomes the physical, mental, and social scars surrounding a survivor of an acid attack.

Being situated in an unstable region, Afghanistan has many expenses related to their current fight against terror. An expert research team has compiled an extensive list on the costs and impacts of the Afghanistan war, presenting both graphs and charts. The impact of war affected more than Afghanistan itself; the whole world felt the effect of the war on terror from 2001 to present day. The cost goes beyond a monetary price tag; joined by both cultural and human cost.

In recent years, Afghanistan's economy has begun to collapse. Due to this collapse, the disparity, or divide, between the poor and the rich has expanded. One of our reporters will take you on an in depth excursion through the spider web that is the economic situation in Afghanistan.

Oil, a powerful natural resource that enthralls the minds of countless countries is abundant in Afghanistan. As a part of OPEC, Afghanistan controls part of the oil that is used by the US and other countries around the globe, thus Afghanistan is a major powerhouse when oil is regarded. Our team has prepared a riveting documentary on the ins and outs of the oil industry in Afghanistan.

As previously stated, the Middle Eastern country of Afghanistan has a very diverse history and culture. While most are familiar with the common stereotypes associated with Afghanistan, our magazine will aim to educate our audience with the real facts on Afghanistan. Our magazine will use a fictional narrative, infographic, documentary, and newscast to compare real-world situations to a fictional novel in order break single stories about the country of Afghanistan.

"Oil; How Important Can It Be?" by Justin Riese
"The Burning Sting of Oppression" by Bryce Neptune

Young and free, Samar dashed through the backyards of Kabul, causing mischief wherever she went. Her mother and father were very lenient so she usually was only confronted with a stern warning. Those few warnings had been the worst punishments she had ever faced--and now, she wished for those times to return. In accordance with cultural traditions, Samar's freedom became restricted at the age of 13 when she was no longer allowed outside of the house without her father. In addition, Samara's parents offered her hand in marriage to multiple men, all so quick and without her say. Samar was scared but there was one thing that could save her--school. By attending school she would be able to postpone a forced marriage as most men viewed women's schooling as sinful and improper. Her parents on the other hand encouraged her education. They never really followed the societal norms anyways and even paid the expensive fees that girls had to pay for an education. Most girls Samara knew were uneducated. The same was true for the boys, although many of them had attended elementary schools but decided not to continue onto secondary school. When the summer came to a close, the schools opened and Samara's first year of schooling approached. She became excited for the new path she would be led down. She had no idea what to expect or how to act, but this brought excitement to her.

When her first day arrived, Samara awoke early and prepared her nicest outfit and topped it off with her hijab. When she walked up to the wrought iron gates of the school she felt small and insignificant in comparison. The school loomed over her, casting a dark early morning shadow over her. Once past the mahogany doors of the entrance the mood softened. She no longer felt intimidated and was instead greeted by a warm buzzing of activity inside of the school. Girls hustled back and forth across the halls gathering supplies and then darting off to the closest classroom. Samara gathered her senses and began a trek following one of the more orderly girls down the hall. She mimicked the girls movements and followed her to a small dimly lit classroom with 5 desks, 3 of which were missing a leg on their chair. Soon the teacher shoved a corrugated cardboard piece over the frame of what used to be the classroom door and the other girls quieted. The lady introduced herself as Mrs. Asal. She had a short, round figure that was covered by her niqab revealing only her almond shaped brown eyes. Teachings began with basic math that left some of the other students completely lost, but not Samara. She had always been bright and quick to catch on, this changed for her when the subject switched from math to history. The rest of the school day was a quick and furious force of knowledge. The day left her feeling exhausted and confused. The second day came and went following the 3rd and 4th. By the 5th day Samara was on top of her work and keeping up with the smartest members of her school. She was now enrolled in multiple math classes--as it turned out to be her strong suit. The 6th day was upon her and it went by as usual, she finished all of her work in class and was preparing to take the voyage home. The walk from her house to the school was a half an hour but she seemed to make time fly. About halfway through her walk home she noticed a humming sound coming from over her right shoulder. She recognized the sound as a motorbike, the bike’s sputtering began to become less violent as it approached her. She turned to see two bearded men with squirt guns in their hands disembark from the now parked motorbike. Scared as to why these men were following her she began to walk faster, stealing looks over her left shoulder at her pursuers. The third time she looked back the taller of the two men grabbed her backpack and yanked her into his arms. The man holding her had a long dark beard, steely gray eyes and a foreboding scar that ran from his lower chin to his right eyebrow. The other man had softer features pronounced with a large belly that protruded from under his ill-fitting shirt. The scarfaced man spun Samara around to face him.

“What's your name girl?” Samara’s assailant spit. She fumbled with her words trying to form an S when she was cuffed on the head with the end of the fat man's squirt gun.

“What’s your name?” Scarface repeated. This time Samara was able to spit out her name.

“Samara,” she mumbled.

“Are you going to school?” Inquired Scarface.

“I was just leaving school sir,” answered Samara. The men exchanged glances and then she was blindsided. The fatman had lifted her up and slammed her into the pavement, cracking her skull in a sickeningly loud crunch. The men spat on her uncovered face.

“Pig!” shouted Scarface. Before Samara could wipe the spit from her face she experienced something that she would never forget, the burning sting of the water from the squirt guns. The water turned out to be hydrochloric acid as she would later find out, and it seared her exposed flesh, leaving her sightless. She listened intently for the next 3 minutes and heard a series of events take place. The sound of Scarface and Fatman mounting their motorbike, then the scream of an elderly woman followed by approaching footsteps that crowded around her. Shouts erupted and were soon overcome by the screeching of an ambulance. It was at that point that Samara lost consciousness.

Blinding white light seared Samara’s eye. She had regained sight in her right eye but the left was still completely dark. Her sole eye felt almost assaulted by the sterile white walls, broken only by the stains of blood blotched onto her white gown. She wondered if the blood was hers and as she reached up to her face to check for damage she noticed that she had been hooked up to an IV line in her arm. Not wanting to remove the medical device Samara drifted back into a dreamless sleep. This time when she awoke she felt the warmth of a body to her left. Her head bobbed over to face the nurse who was removing a white wrapping from around the left side of Samara’s face. The nurse hurriedly unwrapped the bandages from Samara then stood up, almost like a soldier straight and tall. She introduced herself as Mrs. White. A tall caucasian woman with broad shoulders and shoulder length pale blonde hair. Mrs. White was dressed in the same blinding white fabric as Samara but wore gloves and a face mask. Samara attempted to make conversation but her muscles refused to make any discernable noise. She could only manage quiet gargles and hissing noises. It was then that the weight of Samara’s situation hit her. The memories came back: The men, the yelling, her skull smashing the ground, the sickening crunch, and worst of all the acid and its ripping burn that scorched her beautiful face. Tears poured from Samara’s eyes pooling around the corners of her mouth. The sadness gripped Samara fiercer than before and then the sobs struck, shaking her body violently causing pain on the now unbandaged skin of her face. She stayed this way for almost 10 minutes until sleep overtook her once again.

Samara reawoke but this time her environment had changed, she was now secluded in a small room created by white draping curtains. In the room with her was a weary Mrs. White. Startled when Samara shifted in her bed Mrs. White whipped her neck up to face Samara. Samara noted the red lines straining in her nurse's eyes. Before Samara could attempt words again Mrs. White launched what sounded like a prepared and well practiced speech.

“Samara, I am very sorry about what happened to you. In case you do not remember you were attacked with acid when walking home from school. First responders called the ambulances very quickly but there were delays in getting you to the ER. I am sorry to say that you suffered major injuries to your,” Mrs. White's voice choked, she sniffled then plowed on again “...face and eyes. We were able to save your right eye from any major damage but we were not as fortunate with the left. I am sorry.” Mrs. White seemed sincere but Samara felt she had left something out. Formulating a question in her mind Samara was again interrupted by the nurse.

“Its with a sad heart that I must tell you that your parents were killed by the same men who we believe attacked you. I am very sorry Samara,” Mrs. White blurted. She seemed almost relieved when she finished, as if she had brooded on it for days. Samara felt ethereal, almost dream like as she spoke her first intelligible words since the attack.

“Can I have a mirror.” Slurred Samara. She hadn't really wanted to see her face but she wanted to know if this was all real. Mrs. White almost protested until she turned and left returning with a small handheld mirror. Holding it in her hand Samara lifted the mirror and steeled herself for the image. Through the mirror she saw the horror. A face mutilated along the right jaw line curving up through the left side of her lip and up to her left eye ending at the bald patch above her left ear. Her lip was carved out with large bumps and cuts in the corner of her lip. And then her eye--it was the worst--missing both eyelids her eye hung from the side bye small pieces of skin. Horrified, Samara launched the mirror against one of the fabric walls and hid her face under her blankets. She weeped in complete sorrow, she lost everything from her family, to her dignity, to her beauty. She cried for the next 2 hours overcome with grief until she ran out of tears, and then she cried with dry sobs shaking uncontrollably under her blanket. When she finally gained control it was a new day and she felt lethargic and hollow. Mrs. White entered to bring her breakfast when Samara would hide under her blanket until the nurse left. She was scared. So scared of what she looked like. She was a monster, lesser even than the animals that ran the streets. Later that day Mrs. White came for breakfast and dinner both of which Samara hid from.

For the next few days their pattern continued, Mrs. White bringing food and Samara hiding. Multiple times the nurse had tried at conversation but to no avail. Finally a week after her attack Samara spoke again.

“Mrs. White?” mumbled Samara under the blankets.

“Yes sweetie?” Mrs. White responded as carefully and kindly as possible.

“I’m scared”

“I know. But you can't hide forever Samara.” Mrs. White’s statement was met with silence and then.

“I don't want to be scared. I want to talk right, I want to see again.” Samara weeped lightly and Mrs. White came to her side comforting her through the blankets. Again a silent pause.

“I can help you see again Samara,” spoke Mrs. White. This caught Samara’s attention and she sat up under her blankets pulling the right side down enough to peek her good eye over. Seeing her chance the nurse continued on.

“You will have to work very hard, you must commit yourself to try even when you fail.” Samara waited silently for her nurse to continue.

“We could perform physical therapy everyday for the next month, and I'm not promising anything, but maybe we could make your eye and mouth better.” Samara burst with excitement. She launched from under the covers hugging Mrs. White in a tight hug. Surprised by her excitement Mrs White was shocked, until her brain caught up and she became happy to see Samara finally interested. They set a time for their meetings, once each morning, and twice in the evenings. Then Mrs. White left Samara to sleep, and she ate her first meal since a week.

The next morning was hard on Samara. It started well rested and exciting but then Mrs. White entered and they began their physical therapy. Strenuous hours Samara spent contorting every muscle on her face, sweating profusely from the pain and effort, but to no avail nothing was changing. She slept that night frustrated but continued the next day with the same vigorous determination. Days passed and soon weeks but with little results. She was now able to speak relatively clear but she had no progress in the most important area--her eye. Refusing to quit Samara lengthened her therapy to even after Mrs. White left, exercising her muscles well into the night sometimes skipping sleep. Slowly she began to see results but the 1 month mark had been reached and Samara was not satisfied. She continued on for 2 more months and finally Samara was satisfied. She had regained partial sight in her left eye and could turn it at half rotation and her speech was near flawless now, but the greatest challenge still lay ahead of her. At four months from the attack she was discharged from the hospital. Saying her goodbyes to her newfound friend and nurse she steeled herself for what was to come. She stood at the hospital doors looking out through the blurred glass. What she did next surprised even herself. She unwrapped her hijab tossed it to the ground and then strode out into the streets of Kabul. Her mouth went dry and her palms sweated all while her stomach crawled about but she ignored her fear and stood proud swaying her hips and bobbing her head as she strode down the streets, backpack in arm. Men and women alike shot disgusted glares at Samara and soon she began to fear she had made the wrong choice but something in her head drove her, it was Mrs. White the tall and commanding figure of a sweet and kind woman that made her continue. She stared back at any onlooker and soon the looks of others stopped bothering her and then life changed. She felt free, truly free. Samara looked to the sky and laughed, completely jubilant daring anyone to cast her another disgusted look. She was now the one with power, she dictated her own life. No longer was she bound by the cultural regulations on her, or the fear of not being accepted, she was truly free; the weight of her oppression was lifted.

Once home Samara continued her life the way she wanted--the way her parents would have wanted--and continued to live without fear. She became more independent with each passing year learning to provide for herself and she even began working, ironically at the same hospital she had been liberated in, although Mrs. White had left soon after her discharge. Samara continued her schooling and was now in her final year, preparing to graduate. She had astounding grades and was planning on attending Kabul University as she was offered a full ride scholarship. Life was good for Samara and the one thing she was most thankful for was her burns, because even though they had plagued her, they had also offered her something she couldn't get anywhere else--the path to freedom.

"Newscast Title" by Brant Palm

Insert newscast here when Brant finishes.

"Afghanistan: The Cost of War" by Connor Perone
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