CULTURE & F.A.Q SECTION

  • WHY ARE AFGHANS COMING TO THE UNITED STATES?
    • The fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban in August 2021 created a refugee crisis.
    • UNHCR reports that more than 550,000 Afghans have been displaced since January 2021 due to Taliban advances
    • Thousands of Afghans arrived in the United States since the hurried evacuation of Afghans began in mid-August
    • It included Afghans who helped U.S. forces during its 20-year involvement in the country’s war.
    • President Joe Biden said the United States aimed to evacuate 50,000 – 65,000 Afghan allies before the Aug. 31 deadline for U.S. withdrawal
    • Biden’s estimate appeared to refer to Afghans who have applied for a humanitarian visa known as a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV), and their families
  • TYPES OF AFGHANS COMING TO THE UNITED STATES?
    • Special Immigrant Visas for Afghans – Who Were Employed by/on behalf of the U.S. Government under section 602(b) of the Afghan Allies Protection Act of 2009
    • An emergency security supplemental appropriations Act, 2021, enacted on July 30, 2021, authorized 8,000 additional Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) for Afghans.
    • Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, parole allows an alien who is ineligible for admission to the United States to enter temporarily due to a compelling emergency. With humanitarian parole, an otherwise ineligible alien (the “beneficiary”) can get a one-time entry for a specific purpose, such as:
      • Obtaining medical treatment
      • Visiting an ill family member
      • Attending a family member’s funeral,
      • Testifying in a U.S. court case.
    • WHERE IS AFGHANISTAN?
    • Afghanistan is at the heart of Asia
    • It connects the East to the West thru the ancient silk route thru three regions.
      • South Asia – Pakistan and India lie to the east
      • Southwest Asia/Middle East – Iran, Iraq, and the Persian gulf lie to the west.
      • Central Asia – five republics of the former Soviet Union lie to the north: Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan
    • Afghans have lived through foreign invasions, civil war, insurgency, and a previous period of oppressive Taliban rule. Here are some key events and dates from the past four decades.
      • The Soviet war years 1979-1989
      • The 1990s to 2001: Civil war followed by Taliban rule
      • The U.S.-led invasion 2001-2021
    • WHAT KIND OF PEOPLE ARE THE AFGHANS?
      • Afghanistan is a tribal society with different regions of the country having their own subculture. The majority follow Islamic traditions, celebrate the same holidays, dress the same, consume the same food, listen to the same music, and are multi-lingual to a certain extent.
      • There are many ethnicities in Afghanistan, four major ethnic groups include:
        • Hazara (9%)
        • Pashtun (42%)
        • Tajik (27%)
        • Uzbek (9 %)
        • Other such as Aimaq, Turkmen, Baloch unspecified (22%)
      • The major languages spoken in the country are:
        • Dari (used at schools and business) – 50%
        • Pashtun – 35%
      • Islam is the predominant religion
        • 80% are Sunni Muslim
        • 20% are Shi’a Muslim
      • Pray 5 times a day
      • Fast sunrise to sunset in Ramadan for 30 days
      • Celebrate all Islamic holidays
    • WHAT IS THE EDUCATION SYSTEM LIKE IN AFGHANISTAN?
      • Education Law of 2008 mandates 9 years of compulsory education (primary education and lower secondary education)
      • 16% of Afghanistan’s schools are girls-only, and many of them lack proper sanitation facilities, which further hinders attendance. Certain sociocultural factors and traditional beliefs also undermine girls’ education. Girls continue to marry very young – 17 percent before their 15th birthday
      • Historically, women weren’t always refined to hard laws. The government made an effort to lessen women’s inequality during the 1800s by promoting young girls to dress more westernized and attend school
      • Gender roles are highly patriarchal and follow an age hierarchy
      • Men are viewed as the main income earners, while women are seen as the homemakers
    • WHAT ARE SOME CULTURAL PRACTICES OF THE AFGHANS?
      • Putting family’s interests before own is celebrated
      • Family matters should be kept strictly private
      • Reluctant to share personal issues with non-family members as community knowledge of a family’s struggles can bring shame
      • Genders often segregate, at events like weddings and other gatherings
      • Parents often arrange the marriages of their children to ensure the families are compatible
      • Marriage is viewed as the merging of two families
      • Shaking hands, maintaining eye contact, or being too open with the opposite genders is not a norm
      • Afghans celebrate all the Islamic holidays as well as the Persian new year (Nowruz) which falls on the first day of spring, in which haft mewa (7 dry fruits) are soaked overnight and eaten on Nawroz with family friends. Nowruz is not a religious holiday, but an ancient celebration.
  • WHAT ARE AFGHAN FOOD PRACTICES LIKE?
    • Food Plays an Important Role in the Afghan culture and is the highlight of every gathering
    • Lamb, Chicken, Rice, Bread, and Salad are a must at every event
    • Firini ( Cream of wheat) Roat (sweet bread) Gosh-e-fil (elephant ears are Afghan popular desserts
    • Tea (green & black) with cardamom if consumed daily
    • Dry fruits, tree nuts, raisins, & pastries are consumed as snacks with tea
    • As Muslims, Afghans do not consume pork or any of its byproducts- Some Afghans only eat Zabiha meat, in which the animal is raised and slaughtered using Islamic practices
    • Alcohol is forbidden in Islam