+

Negin Khpalwak loves music more than most people love, well, anything.

Growing up in a small village in Afghanistan, she taught herself how to play piano, not revealing her musical interest or prowess to her family. Her passion had to remain a secret because music and playing instruments were considered blasphemous and strictly forbidden under Taliban rule.

\n\n

Many instruments and recordings were destroyed, and musicians caught disobeying the ban could have one of their hands cut off. The law effectively ended Afghanistan's vibrant and beautiful musical history. 


Students at an Islamic madrassa burn DVDs, videos, and music CDs in Islamabad, Pakistan, an event reminiscent of the early days of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.

Negin eventually confided in her father, who encouraged her to pursue her dream.

The rest of the family was less supportive, even hostile. While the country is no longer under Taliban rule, many people — particularly conservative individuals in smaller villages like Negin's — still frown on music and the fine arts, especially when performed by women. 

All GIFS via Business Insider/Insider People.

A few years later, Negin moved into a girls home in Kabul, while attending the Afghanistan National Institute for Music (ANIM).

Negin took up the sarod, a traditional Indian instrument making a resurgence thanks to music education programs like the one at ANIM.  The school and its hallways filled with beautiful music became a safe, welcoming place for Negin to plant roots and bloom into an accomplished performer. 

Negin played her sarod in Washington, D.C., as part of ANIM's three-city tour of the U.S. in 2013. Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images.

Now 19, Negin leads the Zohra orchestra, one of ANIM's ensembles.

The small orchestra is made up of a few dozen girls from ANIM playing western and traditional Afghan instruments

But despite their beautiful music, everything isn't always harmonious. 

\n\n

The musicians in the orchestra face scrutiny and harassment for performing — doubly so because they're young women. While many of their families are supportive, other neighbors and community members still speak ill of their decisions. 

Negin's brothers and uncles, for example, still aren't accepting of her career path, despite their sister's success. In fact, when she returned to her village for a visit, they threatened to beat her for performing on television.

But even in the face of hostility and threats of violence, Negin and her young performers remain resolute.

She's just as passionate and driven as the little girl who years ago taught herself piano in secret. 

\n\n

"I will never accept defeat," she told Retuers. "I will continue to play music. I do not feel safe, but when people see me and say, 'That is Negin Khpalwak', that gives me energy."

See Negin's story and watch her lead ANIM's Zorah orchestra in this video from Business Insider.

Education

Teacher of the year explains why he's leaving district in unforgettable 3-minute speech

"I'm leaving in hopes that I can regain the ability to do the job that I love."

Lee Allen

For all of our disagreements in modern American life, there are at least a few things most of us can agree on. One of those is the need for reform in public education. We don't all agree on the solutions but many of the challenges are undeniable: retaining great teachers, reducing classroom size and updating the focus of student curriculums to reflect the ever-changing needs of a globalized workforce.

And while parents, politicians and activists debate those remedies, one voice is all-too-often ignored: that of teachers themselves.

This is why a short video testimony from a teacher in the Atlanta suburb of Gwinnett County went viral recently. After all, it's hard to deny the points made by someone who was just named teacher of the year and used the occasion to announce why he will be leaving the very school district that just honored him with that distinction.

Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

Tea time: how this boutique blends cultures from around the world

Ethically sourced, modern clothes for kids that embrace adventure, inspire connections and global thinking.

The Tea Collection combines philanthropic efforts with a deep rooted sense of multiculturalism into each of their designs so that kids can grow up with global sensibilities. They make clothes built to last with practicality and adventure in mind. But why "Tea"?

Let's spill it. Tea is a drink shared around the world with people from all different cultures. It is a common thread that weaves the world together. The Tea Collection was born from a love of travel and a love of sharing tea with different people in different places. Inspired by patterns from around the world, these clothes help children develop a familiarity with global communities.

Tea sources their materials ethically and ensures that each of their partners abide to strict codes of conduct. They have a zero-tolerance policy for anything "even slightly questionable" and make sure that they regularly visit their manufacturing partners to ensure that they're supporting positive working conditions.

Since 2003, The Tea Collection has partnered with the Global Fund for Children and has invested in different grassroots organizations that create community empowered programs to uplift kids in need. They donate 10% of their proceeds and have already contributed over $500,000 to different organizations such as: The Homeless Prenatal Program (San Francisco, CA, USA), Door of Faith Orphanage (Baja California, Mexico), Little Sisters Fund (Nepal) and others in Peru, Sri Lanka, India, Italy and Haiti.

But the best part about the Tea Collection? They're also an official member of the Kidizen Rewear Collective, which believes that clothes should stretch far beyond one child's use. They have their own external site for their preloved clothes that makes rewearing affordable. Families can trade in gently used Tea clothes and receive discounts for future products. Shopping the site helps keep clothes out of land fills and reduces the environmental impact of the fashion industry.

By creating heirloom style clothing made to last families can buy, sell, and trade clothes that can be reworn again and again. Because "new to you" doesn't always have to mean never been worn. And let's be honest, we all know how fast kids grow! Shopping preloved clothes is a great way to keep styles fresh without harming the environment or feeling guilty about not getting the most out of certain styles.

But don't just take our word for it! Head over to the Tea Collection and see for yourself!

Upworthy has earned revenue through a partnership and/or may earn a portion of sales revenue from purchases made through links on our site.

Hold on, Frankie! Mama's coming!

How do you explain motherhood in a nutshell? Thanks to Cait Oakley, who stopped a preying bald eagle from capturing her pet goose as she breastfed her daughter, we have it summed up in one gloriously hilarious TikTok.

The now viral video shows the family’s pet goose, Frankie, frantically squawking as it gets dragged off the porch by a bald eagle—likely another mom taking care of her own kiddos.

Wearing nothing but her husband’s boxers while holding on to her newborn, Willow, Oakley dashes out of the house and successfully comes to Frankie's rescue while yelling “hey, hey hey!”

The video’s caption revealed that the Oakleys had already lost three chickens due to hungry birds of prey, so nothing was going to stop “Mama bear” from protecting “sweet Frankie.” Not even a breastfeeding session.

Oakley told TODAY Parents, “It was just a split second reaction ...There was nowhere to put Willow down at that point.” Sometimes being a mom means feeding your child and saving your pet all at the same time.

As for how she feels about running around topless in her underwear on camera, Oakley declared, “I could have been naked and I’m like, ‘whatever, I’m feeding my baby.’”

Keep ReadingShow less