MPP Students To Spend Summer in Afghanistan

Carolyn McGourty MPP 2011

As the United States pursues its strategy to achieve stable governance in Afghanistan, a number of Harvard Kennedy School students will be headed there in the summer to help advance the country in other capacities.

From political rights to drug policy, MPP candidates will spend their break to help improve the complex, war-torn nation.

“I’ve studied Afghanistan extensively this year, and really wanted to see it in person,” said Afreen Akhter, MPP1, who secured an internship with Shuhada, a woman-led NGO based in central Afghanistan. “We’ve been flooded with so many critiques of Afghanistan at Kennedy, however, I don’t feel comfortable supporting any of those positions without having seen it myself.”

Akhter will work on the ground for women’s rights with Shuhada, taking part in community outreach through surveying program participants in several of their field offices. Putting her newly acquired econometrics skills to use, she will try to determine the effectiveness of their initiatives and whether or not they enhance community security.

“If I enjoy working in Afghanistan I’d like to apply to work as a civil servant for the State (Department) upon graduation,” Akhter said.

Akhter will be working in Bamyan, the site of the desecrated Buddha statues infamously destroyed by the Taliban in 2001. Home to the Hazaras, a minority Shiite population in Afghanistan, it is also the country’s only province with a female governor, Habiba Sorabi.

Katy Peters, MPP1, will be working with the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission on a survey of political rights. Though her exact regional assignment and role are still being determined, she said she will most likely be stationed in Kabul.  ... 

Natalie Black, MPP1, will also be headed to Kabul to work for the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime.

Originally published in the Harvard Citizen.  Read full article here.

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Map of Afghanistan