Press releases of Europa-Universität Flensburg (EUF)

"Women in Afghanistan Were Freer Than Those in Europe!"

11th grade class surprised by what it learns in the "Europa-macht-Schule" project

Flensburg, February 22, 2022. For several weeks, a 27-year-old exchange student from Afghanistan has informed, surprised and shocked the students of the 11th grade class in Flensburg's Fördegymnasium high school. Irfanullah Hayat has been a student in the EUF master's degree program in European Studies since early September 2021. As part of the DAAD project "Europa macht Schule," he and WiPo teacher Susanne Ulrich have jointly developed the module on the topic "Women and regime change in Afghanistan." "This topic interested me a lot," Irfanhullah Hayat explains. "I came to Flensburg as an ERASMUS student at the start of September 2021. Before that, I had studied in Turkey. I didn't experience the Taliban when they were in power, but my family and sisters now have to live with them. Their situation weighs heavily on me."

Carefully preparing their lessons on the topic, Susanne Ulrich and Irfanullah Hayat invested more time than would be usual for such a project. And it paid off: the learning effects in the class were great. "In a total of five double lessons we gave between November and February, students experienced at least two shocking 'aha' effects" Ms. Ulrich recounts. "The first was when they learned that Afghanistan was already much further ahead than Europe when it came to the issue of equal rights, and that women's suffrage had already been introduced there in 1919, albeit only for a short time. And the second was when they realized the sheer backwardness of women's situation today. Irfanullah talked about his sisters, so what he had to say really hit home for the students."

Irfanullah Hayat and Susanne Ulrich met at a kick-off meeting of the voluntary DAAD project "Europa macht Schule" at Europa-Universität Flensburg. In the project, guest students from all over Europe become mini ambassadors for their countries, presenting their home countries in schools in creative ways. "The goal is for real people to debunk stereotypical ideas and pseudo-knowledge," Leonie Schwart from the Flensburg site team tells us. "That worked out well this winter, too." Many other students besides Irfanullah Hayat participated in the project, broadening the scope of Europe as a subject to include non-European continents. Shahd Idkaidak from Palestine and Aisha Bikmaeva, both of whom study at the Rendsburg Altstadtschule, presented "Palestinian Traditions" and "Russian Culture and History," respectively. Lorena Koleki and Sindi Mara took students at the Eckernförde Jungmannschulen school on "A Journey through Albania," and Anna Twumwaa Adofo presented the cuisine of her native Ghana at the same school. "For teachers, students and pupils, these projects were a real experience," emphasizes Leonie Schwart.

Irfanullah Hayat was particularly touched by the students' compassion. When asked what they were currently doing in Afghanistan and how they would feel, a common response was, "I would cry a lot."