Like all of you, I have watched with alarm, concern, and heartbreak as conditions in Afghanistan continue to unravel. The return of a repressive regime that is hostile to women, religious freedom, and universal education is abhorrent to our community. Fulbrighters believe that the world is better when we build people-to-people relationships, so we are outraged when regimes restrict those relationships and threaten violence to anyone who questions, explores, and disagrees.
More specifically, the Fulbright Association—its members, chapters, volunteers, Board, and national staff—stands with all those affiliated with the Fulbright Program in Afghanistan. We are concerned for Afghans now on a grant in the U.S. and their families back home, those who administer the Program there, American alumni who have friends in-country, and especially Afghan alumni and their families who now face an uncertain and even dangerous future.
We are taking action. We have already reached out to partners and allies in the Department of State. Everymember of Congress will receive our letter on Monday, drawing their attention to the plight of these Program affiliates. We want to ensure that Fulbrighters remain high on the list of those who may need evacuation, asylum, and other forms of support.
I can report that the Department of State has taken many actions to protect Afghan Fulbrighters, such as ensuring their anonymity, determining their needs, and connecting them to the DOS Task Force on Afghans at risk. They are contacting all alumni to offer assistance. Afghan Fulbrighters are highly connected and supporting each other. Nearly all the current Afghan cohort has arrived in the U.S. or is in transit.
Note that, as Afghanistan does not have a Fulbright commission, the Program is supported there by the U.S. Embassy, which is obviously under great strain. Also note that the Program does not send U.S. Students to Afghanistan, so there are no current American student Fulbrighters to evacuate. We will continue to monitor this highly fluid situation, ready to take whatever actions we can and passing on to you more opportunities to help Afghan students and scholars.
In the meantime, you can help:
Visit this website where IIE provides ways to take action and donate to their scholar rescue program, which has over a century of experience saving academics worldwide. They also operate an Emergency Student Fund, helping Afghan and Haitian students, among others. IIE has served the Fulbright community since the Program’s inception and has been our partner for decades.
Ask a college or university where you have an affiliation if they are coordinating any relief efforts or support for Afghan visitors and then help them as you can.
Reconnect with your FA chapter, which can both help its members to take action—donating to IIE and other Afghanistan-related relief organizations—and convene digital conversations about the situation in Afghanistan.
We are gauging interest among American alumni who might host for 1-6 months a family of an Afghan Fulbright alum who has fled the country. We have no indication of need yet, but we want to be prepared with volunteers should an organization approach us. Email us at email@example.com with the Subject “Fulbright Afghan Assistance.”
Consider engaging with the following groups that are working to improve conditions in Afghanistan and to help Afghan students and scholars:
You well know that the situation in Afghanistan is volatile and dangerous. Our fellow Fulbrighters are in peril, as is the impact and future of the Program there. Do what you can to help, keep the Fulbright light lifted high, and pray that the suffering people of Afghanistan will see better days.