Winona State Hosts Najib Azad for Global Education Week


Brielle McLearen

Najib Azad was the former spokesperson of for the last President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani. He has also written a book about the fall of Afghanistan, “Beyond Evacuation: From the Himalayas to the Statue of Liberty”. Najib spoke about his experiences in Afghanistan and educated Winona State that its citizens are more than what news and media portray.

Olivia Prondzinski, News Reporter

In honor of Global Education Week, Winona State University held many events to celebrate. Global Education Week took place from Nov. 14-18. The week is an annual worldwide awareness raising initiative that celebrates the benefits of international education and exchange.

Some events from the week included a Tai Chi demonstration, study abroad presentations and an international grocery bingo. Another event from Global Education Week was Beyond Evacuation: From the Himalayas to the Statue of Liberty. This series consisted of the main presentation and then also had an extended discussion session.

International Student and Scholar Services on campus were contacted by the Winona Afghan Support Network about an interesting person, Najib Azad, who had been helping them with Pashto translation.

Azad had been evacuated from Afghanistan last August and currently lives in Stevens Point, Wis. Azad is a former spokesperson for the last President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani. He has also written a book about the fall of Afghanistan, “Beyond Evacuation: From the Himalayas to the Statue of Liberty”.

“The United States has been involved in Afghanistan for years and now also hosts many people who were forced to leave when the U.S. pulled out,” Renee Stowell, study abroad scholarship coordinator, said. “Gaining insight into Afghanistan and its people not only helps us understand the history and current situation but allows us to better support the refugees here in Winona and throughout the United States.”

Stowell helped with the logistics and publicity of the event.

Azad’s talk did not include any photos or videos because he did not want to induce anxiety from the sorrow and graphic images.

“It was the hardest time anyone could image. You can only watch those things in movies, but we have experienced it,” Azab said. “I believe it was one of the biggest tragedies of this century.”

Azab studied at the Standford School of Law in Afghanistan before revolution. He gave the audience a description of what the country was like before things changed and what it looked like after as well.

The speaker’s main message of the presentation was that the people of Afghanistan are not just what is portrayed on the news. Although terrible things have happened, and continue to happen, it does not reflect who they are.

“The people have remarkable culture and history of perseverance. Njiab and his family went through so much to escape and come to the U.S., but he does what he can to support other refugees and be a bridge between our culture,” Stowell said.

International Student and Scholar Services has been working on coordinating this event since the beginning of the Fall semester.

“We hope to continue with speakers raising awareness of global issues during International Education Week in future years,” Stowell said.