Amanda and Fatima

Amanda and Fatima are one of the first Aussie-Afghan sister partners from the pilot season of the Sisterhood of Culture and Language Learners. Amanda recently moved to Melbourne from the United States while Fatima lives in Kabul. Over the course of the 4 month pilot, they exchanged emails every other week discussing topics such as their school life, family life, hobbies and hopes and dreams for their future and their countries. Here are their thoughts on being in the Sisterhood.


AMANDA


Why did you join the Sisterhood?

I had just moved to Australia right before the lockdown and didn’t know that many people. It was also a really good thing for me to be connected to someone in another country that I basically knew nothing about.


How were you feeling the very first time you met your Afghan sister on video?

I was nervous because I didn’t really know what I was going to talk about. Meeting someone new that I wasn’t sure was going to understand me too. But as soon as I met her it was really fun and I wasn’t nervous any more after that.

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What was your favourite part of the program?

Talking to Fatima individually over video chat because you get to know her more that way. You can see how she expresses herself differently than just through emails. Conversations could go many ways since it was live and not an email when you write and then wait for a reply. The emails did help us start conversations and ask questions about what we had written to each other and we got to go more in depth.


What are some of the interesting things you

learned about Fatima?

It was very interesting to hear her plans for her future. She wants to become a lawyer to advocate for children because there are so many children who are helpless in Afghanistan. She’s been working really hard for a scholarship to go to a school in another country. I’m praying she can get that because only like five people can get it in the whole of Afghanistan. She’s very ambitious!


What are somethings that you learnt are similar and different between your two lives?

The big topics are the same - we both have school, we both have families. But how we do school is very different and our families live very differently. I also realised, just because she is in a harder place to live doesn’t mean she doesn’t have as much ambition, she just has less opportunity. I think we both have similar things we want to have in our lives, but the opportunities to have those in our lives are different and how they come about is different. We both want peace in our countries. I want peace for her Afghanistan and for the United States. We both want to be able to get higher education. Another specific difference I noticed is that in Afghanistan families tend to live together longer. She has all of her older siblings living with her and her parents. Some of them are in uni or graduated from uni already. In America you get out of the house earlier and want to leave sooner.


Do you recommend this program to other English speaking girls?

Yes, I definitely recommend it mostly because it gives you a view from a country that you have never interacted with before. You get a first person perspective from a person in that country and it broadens your spectrum of understanding and knowledge of the world. I plan to continue to keep in contact with Fatima for sure!


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From one of Amanda and Fatima's monthly video calls.


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FATIMA

I love communication and I always try to communicate with different people. The Sisterhood program made this opportunity for me to communicate with people and learn about their culture, method of living and about their hobbies. Before meeting with my sister Amanda, I was excited and stressed about how I should talk with her, if she could understand me or what I am saying, also when she speaks, whether I can understand what she is talking about. The first time when I saw her she had a beautiful smile and spoke very clearly and friendly. From the beginning of the meeting, I became friends with her.

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The interesting part of this program was the “Sisters Spotlight”. Each week a different sister was in the spotlight and she shared her life to us in pictures in Slack, a platform we used to share information and photos. Though the “Sister Spotlight” I was introduced to all the sisters and got to know more about them. I love my sister Amanda because of her moral support and her sympathy. When I am sad or when a bad situation happens in Afghanistan, she motivates me and make me hopeful. She even tells me me “you are strong and you can do everything that you want to pass difficulties”. This program helped me in speaking and writing of English language. Now I can write essays and paragraphs. At the end, I want to recommend this program for girls! Amanda is my sister after this and I love her like my own sister, if she wants I am ready to contact her in future.

Click here to learn more about how the Sisterhood program works.   


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