She got an Afghan village to allow their daughters to go to primary school. Now it's college time.

Right now, in the small village of Deh'Subz, Afghanistan, the first private, free, rural women's college in the nation's history is being built.

The pioneer behind the project?


Photo courtesy of Razia's Ray of Hope Foundation.

71-year-old Razia Jan, an educator who grew up in a more liberal Afghanistan before Taliban occupation. She later moved to the U.S. to attend Harvard University and then settled in Massachusetts.

After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Razia was determined to return to Afghanistan for the first time to support the women on her native soil.

In 2008, she started a free, private K-12 school for girls in Deh'Subz. When the men in the conservative village said they wanted the school to only teach young boys, Razia pushed back. “Women are the eyesight of this community," she said. “You are blind."

Photo courtesy of Beth Murphy/Principle Pictures.

In order to convince skeptics in the village of the importance of the school, Razia had every first-year student learn to write not only her own name, but also her father's. The men in the village were impressed that the girls could interpret English and read letters sent from the government.

It took time, but soon Razia had the support of the community.

Photo courtesy of Beth Murphy/Principle Pictures.

The Zabuli Education Center has been providing free community-based education as well as uniforms, food, shoes, and warm coats for seven years now.

During its first year of operation, the Zabuli center taught 91 girls; today it educates nearly 480 between the ages of 4 and 21. The only problem? The young women who are about to graduate don't want to stop studying. So Razia Jan decided it was time to build another school.

If they can't go to college, she said, the college will come to them.

Jan's foundation, the Razia's Ray of Hope Foundation, launched an Indiegogo campaign. By August, they successfully raised over $117,000 to fund the building of the Razia Jan Technical College. The two-year program will train women in computer science, midwifery, literature, English as a second language, and teaching. The goal is for the young women to return as teachers at the Zabuli Education Center or serve as nurses in the community.

Photo courtesy of Razia's Ray of Hope Foundation.

Only nine days after the Indiegogo campaign ended, the center's building foundation was laid in the village.

“Razia moves fast," says Beth Murphy, who has been working on a film about the Zabuli center.

Photo courtesy of Razia's Ray of Hope Foundation.

The seven girls who will attend the college in the spring will graduate from high school this November. Murphy says the success of the school is so dependent on the support of the community. And it sounds like they've got it. Says Murphy: “Men in the community are already verbalizing that their daughters will graduate with careers."

And if Taliban occupation were to infiltrate the area again?

Murphy says a shopkeeper across the street from the education center told her: “If anyone tries to do anything at the schools, they'll have to put the bullet through me first."

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On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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