The Many Faces of Afghanistan
Karen Light and 6th grade students at Locke Elementary
As a part of their International Baccalaureate education, which promotes intercultural understanding and respect as an essential part of life in the 21st century, sixth grade students at Locke Elementary in Chicago, IL read The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis. Following the main character, Parvana, an Afghan girl who dresses as a boy to make money for her family under the rule of the Taliban, students learned about the culture of people on the other side of the world. This lead to a discussion on the United States' continued engagement in Afghanistan as well as what the students thought about war and oppression. Whether they felt like the war was a good idea or not, they all could agree that the killing of innocent people, including children their own age, was terrible and enough to challenge us to think of better solutions to world conflicts.
To further demystify the Afghan people, the students each received a picture of an Afghan child and drew it using the grid method onto a larger square. Next, they painted the base colors, which involved learning that all skin color is made out of different amounts of the same four colors: red, blue, yellow, and white. Lastly, students shaded their portraits using oil pastels. The result is a patchwork of color and expression reflecting the diversity and vitality of the culture. May these mural panels serve in memory of the innocent children who have lost their lives as well as those who suffer because of the war.